Monday Night is for the playlists... a.k.a. time to get your drink on since there literally might not be a tomorrow...

God Save Us All, except Trump.  Seriously, Fuck Trump...  

 

On the eve of the Election 2016, or as it's better known (insert your favorite John Oliver alternate election name joke here, my favorite being "America's Shit Salad Fuckstravaganza 2016"), I wanted to live it up a little and let loose.  After all, it may literally be my last chance to listen to music and drink as an American.  Let's allow music to take our minds off of the Green Bay Packers' second consecutive loss and our possible pending doom come the morrow.  Enjoy!

 

The Cardigans - "My Favourite Game"

 

Jennifer Lopez - "Waiting for Tonight"

 

Starting this shit off with a two-fer.  Speaking of two-fers, any Gran Turismo 2 fans out there?  One of the most ridiculous things my buddy and I used to do, for hours and hours on end, was firing up the old Playstation, putting GT2 on in head to head mode and playing "tag" with the cars we would choose.  We would stay up all night, racing around the track trying to elude whichever one of us was "it."  We had some epic battles.  Seriously epic fucking battles to the death.  Sort of, but more like stay up all night rocking Jennifer Lopez's "On the 6" on repeat until one of us literally passed out from exhaustion.  "Waiting for Tonight" is the perfect song for three in morning driving, video-game style.  It really gets you in the zone.  One of my favorite things about my then best friend, was the fact that we could, unabashedly, enjoy silly pop music like Jennifer Lopez or Britney Spears or Mandy Moore with no judgement.  Definitely not something I shared with anyone else, being a twelve year old in rural Wisconsin.  For men, listening to Jennifer Lopez was generally frowned upon, to put it nicely.  We enjoyed just being fucking goofy and listening to goofy things.  Lots of great times...

 

Beach Slang - "Bad Art and Weirdo Ideas"

 

I know, right?  Fucking left turn immediately but this song kills me.  There just aren't many songwriters who can actually fucking write lyrics worth a damn anymore.  This muthafucker can.  I don't know his name because I hate googling things like that.  Fucking great and smart Rock N' Roll, Punk, or whatever you want to call it.  But whatever you call it, just be sure to also call it awesome.  He focuses a lot on the sense of being "alive," which hits me right where I need to be hit sometimes.  This album, masterfully entitled "The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us," warms the deepest parts of the cockles of my heart and makes me want to find a couple dudes or chicks to start a more hard-rocking version of Bradley Wik and the Charlatans.  I fall in love, rough, with records that inspire me, and this one definitely does.

 

The War on Drugs - "Red Eyes"

 

Well... This song has everything I hate about hipster music, but, for some reason, I can't help but listen to it.  They do the stupid "douse everything in reverb" nonsense, I can't understand a goddamn word this fucker is singing, the bridge sucks, the song feels loosely structured and not crafted into its' best possible version, but, despite all of that, I still rock out to it.  Go figure.  Fuck...

 

Paul Simon - "Kodachrome"

 

Let's cleanse the palette with this one.  Paul Simon might've been a huge asshole by all accounts, but, fuck, could he write a tune.  I love it when he says "my lack of education hasn't hurt me none."  That's my life.  In this day and age, people look at a (relatively) young man who says he intentionally skipped college quite strangely.  Most people don't understand what I got was so much more valuable.  I spent my college years, the amazing/terrible/hopeful/hope-killing years, traveling this great country across and back playing music.  Believe you me, I've seen more shit than I would've wasting my time learning shit I learned on my own for free anyways.  Maybe I would've banged a few more chicks, but, then again, maybe not.  I'm a relationship type of guy.  Asperger's and depression make it hard for me to be alone for any significant amount of time.  I almost found out the limit of that once, and I don't want to do it again...

 

Mos Def - "Hip Hop"

 

Early on in my getting-to-know-hip-hop-music days, my good buddy gave me this record, "Black on Both Sides," along with Talib/Reflection Eternal's "Train of Thought" and Aesop Rock's "Labor Days."  Holy muthafucking shit is that an education on some great hip hop.  I can't thank him enough for introducing me to so many great artists.  Listening back to "Black on Both Sides" makes me sad, though, as all of the issues he poses are still quite prevalent, and getting worse (thanks Trump, you cunt).  You can go back into hip hop further and hear the same things.  After all these years, it's depressing to see we haven't moved forward hardly at all.  It's fucked up.  There's a world full of people who don't look exactly like white Americans and somehow that's hard to accept for some people, and Trump is playing on that ignorance/fear.  Goddamnit.  Please people, don't let him become president...

 

Stevie Nicks (feat. Don Henley) - "Leather and Lace"

 

Stevie and Don Henley?  Uh, yes please.  Do I really have to say more?  If I had to pick one song to describe my relationship with my girlfriend, this would definitely be it.  Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but, well, it's true...

 

Pearl Jam - "Given to Fly"

 

For all of those who watch "Touring Band 2000" religiously, as I do, you'll get this one.  This is easily one of the highlights.  Fuck, it's just beauty incarnate.  Truly.  That's all I have to say about this one.

 

Neil Young - "Albuquerque"

 

This album, "Tonight's the Night," is one of the main influences on my new album.  I love the rawness of the songs and the recordings, which fits the songs fucking perfectly.  Sometimes, the best way to display the stories is to scale back the production.  This song sounds like I want all my songs to sound like.  I know this record was initially rejected by Reprise Records, but goddamn, did they fuck up.  Labels rarely understand.  Wilco made a movie about it...

 

Roy Orbison - "It's Over"

 

Someday, I might be able to listen to this song without tearing up, but not tonight.  I wish that when I grow up I can write songs like this.  Obviously, I'll never be able to sing one note in my life as beautiful as Roy, but I wish to God I could.  I really do.  This song is so beautiful and magnificent.  That fucking vibrato, those sad notes.  Roy was truly a once in a lifetime talent.  Johnny Cash spoke very highly of him, and given his "Black and Night" concert, Roy was clearly respected by his peers.  Well, I use "peers" loosely as not many could touch his level of talent and songwriting.  As far as male singers go, Roy's in a rare class with Otis Redding and Jeff Buckley.  Nobody tops Otis, ever, and I mean FUCKING EVER, but Roy comes close.  These are the kind of artists that make me feel so vastly unable to convey the same level of emotion, pain, hope, love, despair, happiness and longing.  At least I know where the bar is set...

 

Wu-Tang Clan - "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'"

 

Nine year old Bradley couldn't fucking comprehend this shit.  All I knew was that I loved it.  I heard "Protect Ya Neck" first on MTV and fell in love.  I ran to the library (yes, the library) to check out this CD and revel in it for a couple weeks.  I had friends who liked Biggie and Tupac, but even so, it was hard to convince rural, white Wisconsinites that "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" was brilliant music.  Needless to say, I listened to this a lot by myself.  The music I couldn't listen to around others was usually relegated to the Walkman while cutting grass.  No one could hear what I was playing and it was probably better that way.  I could listen to anything I wanted away from my judgmental friends.  Or, I guess, "friends," as I would find out later.  Maybe I'll tell you the full story sometime, but for now let's just say I ended up punching one of my best friends in the face because he stood behind my (former) friends when they were verbally abusing the only black kid in our high school.  Shit kicked off and punches were thrown and he came to the defense of his lifelong buddy (which is hard to blame him for on that front, but it's obviously not acceptable given the circumstances) and I had to defend myself, and basic human decency, and hit him before he hit anyone else.  It was a strange, confusing time for me and I ended up without friends for a while.  But high school kids don't make great friends anyways and I found out the older kids had better weed.  So, I guess it was a win-win for me.  I won morally and in smokin' that shit while watching WWF on Mondays.  Life is weird but Karma is for real.  For real...

 

Speaking of Karma, I can't imagine what will happen to all of you who vote Trump tomorrow...  How about we don't find out...  May God have mercy on us all...

More concussion, Asperger's and power outage blues...

Blah, blah, blah something about concussions and Asperger's.  Also, some song recommendations...


One of the most difficult things about having Asperger's is that for a large part of my life I have to pretend to be someone different.  It's not an easy task and it feels very dirty.  It feels as though I am cheating or betraying myself and my life; that I am not being true to my life's purpose.  It's a very strange, imposter-type feeling that I carry most days.  The only thing that I could compare it to is how introverted people feel and are affected by meetings with strangers.  It's exhausting.  It physically wears me down to behave like a "normal" person for 9-10 hours a day.  I can't do it.  Well, I can and do, but only because I have to.  I don't have a choice.  The only jobs for mentally unstable, socially indifferent, self-absorbed people are:  Musician, Actor, Athlete or just plain old crazy rich person.  Seeing as I'm not rich, athletically gifted (though I was a pretty damn good shortstop) or absurdly handsome, musician seems to be the only way.  And I'm trying.  Believe me, I'm trying.  For English-speaking songwriters, there's maybe 15 people alive who are better than me.  But, as we all know, talent and skill and brilliance don't amount to diddly-squat so all I can do is keep on keepin' on, Joe Dirt style.  At some point, I'll tell the tale of the latest Bradley Wik and the Charlatans album, which is still on its way out, by the way.  I feel like James Franco in "11.22.63" when he was trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, the universe was throwing everything it could at him to prevent this from happening.  I'm not sure why God and the universe hate this record so much but fuck it, I'm gonna get it out there if it kills me.  The world deserves it.  Do I think this record will catapult me into the upper echelon of American songwriters?  Maybe.  But I definitely think this record will be a grower.  It may not light the world on fire immediately but the songwriting will sustain it until it gets its righteous recognition.  It will, goddamnit, if it's the last thing I do...

Speaking of last things, man, do these concussions last forever?  The ibuprofen I'm taking for the headaches will kill me before anything else.  It's been three weeks and I still can't see straight.  It's like being three drinks in all the fucking time.  You can see, but it's not perfect.  You can drive, but it's not your favorite thing in the world.  Even watching TV is not easy, and that's the fucking easiest thing you can do in the whole world.  Fucking seriously, three weeks in and the only thing that works is my ears and my ability to listen to music.  But, even then, my mind wanders.  I'm unable to focus completely.  It drives me fucking bonkers.  I almost stopped listening to a vinyl record part of the way through.  And I firmly believe that once you start a record, you play it all the fucking way through.  It was a sobering moment where I couldn't help but realize my predicament.  I hate it.  I can't wait to be "normal" (or, at least, my version of "normal") again.  Fuck concussions.  Fucussions.  Is that a thing?  ("The Grinder" joke for those who watched that immensely hilarious but ill-fated show.  Man, it was so good to have Fred Savage back in front of the camera).

Also, we're currently experiencing a severe storm warning.  I've watched a tree fall on a car in front of my apartment and prayed that the trees in front of my living room window don't pop in for a visit.  It was funny, the power went out this afternoon for a while, and I remember thinking "Shit, now what am I gonna do?"  Which, is silly for a number of reasons.  First, I always complain I never have enough time to play guitar/music.  A perfect, non-power activity.  Second, I lived for years without a computer, internet, etc. and those years were amongst my most productive and fulfilling.  One of the things I hate about our society is that the more convenient and easy things become, the lazier we become.  It's so much easier to sit at home and watch Netflix or Hulu than it is to actually do something that contributes back to humanity; whether that means conversing at a bar or playing music in front of people or whatever people do apart from those two things (my only outside of the house activities).

I never thought I'd love a cat, but goddamnit, I love my little kitty.  She can tell I don't feel well and has made it her (current) life's goal to make me feel as comfortable as possible.  Normally, all she gives a shit about is food.  She's like a little fucking dog.  She runs up to greet us when we come home, begs for food whenever we walk near the kitchen and love to curl up on our laps late at night while we watch SportsCenter.  Living in this kind of crappy, small apartment means no puppy dog for me, but she is somehow even better.

How about some music?

SONG I CAN'T GET OUT OF MY HEAD RIGHT NOW:


Not sure if I've mentioned this one before, but, fuck, this is a song and a half:

"Cost of the Cold" - Joan Shelley


It's got 800,000 some odd plays on Spotify, and I reckon at least 500,000 of those are mine.  You'd be surprised how many times you can play it in a row on the 5 1/2 hour drive to Spokane, WA...

SONG I CAN'T GET OUT OF MY HEAD EVER:


Again, I don't keep track of music mentions, so this might be a retread but this is, without a doubt, one of my favorite songs ever:

"I'll Believe in Anything" - Wolf Parade


This is one of those songs that just fucking hit me at just the right fucking time in my life.  I've said it before but I'll say it again (you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't give at least some shit about what I say) that one of the most amazing things about music is that a song can mean so many different things to so many different people depending on when it wandered into their life and what they needed from it.  I needed it to be my everything for almost six months, and it delivered without asking for anything in return.  It perfectly summed up all the pain and sadness and hope for me and the girl I was dating at the time.  I was young and molting my exoskeleton, caught vulnerable by the world before I could protect myself once again.  She was on her third exoskeleton but previously had been damaged so deeply that each new exoskeleton that grew out was already in a weakened state.  I hope she was able to adapt and grow a proper shell.  She deserved some protection from the wild.  I wasn't strong enough to give it to her at that time...

Well, that's about it.  Hopefully, I'll soon be able to report without said concussion and be back to my full powers.  But, until then, these may continue to be sparsely broadcast.  As always, go forth and, uh...  Shit, I can't remember.  Well, then just go forth for now, I suppose...

Songs for the soul... aka Shit that I need right now...

Random thoughts and some thoughts on, or perhaps caused by, concussions...


I've heard that God made humans in His image.  Maybe so, but that was (hundreds of) thousands of years ago.  Since then we've been ravaged by the imperfect-ness of humanity and carefully constructed within its faults.  Slowly, we've (d)evolved into our current existence.  God are we fucked up.  Not everyone, mind you, just a good chunk of us.  Most of us have our demons to deal with, some worse than others.  As PREVIOUSLY EXPLAINED, I feel quite blessed about my life.  But I, like most, have certain things I struggle with daily.  Not the least of which is Asperger's.  I, obviously, am high functioning but sometimes I wish I were a little further out on the spectrum.  It would be nice to not understand other people's emotions AND not give a fuck.  I, unfortunately, do not understand but do give a fuck.  I can see how my actions and words affect people.  It's rare that I can actually be empathetic but I also do not like to see the people I love mad or sad or whatever.  It makes me feel very guilty.  I always used to think that was the result of being raised Catholic, but I've come to realize it's more of a warning that maybe I just said or did something that wasn't brilliant.  Even with that lack-of-empathy guilt, it's very difficult for me to listen to someone talk about "how they feel" or "how I make them feel" because I don't really understand, and moreover, I believe it doesn't really matter.  The only thing that really matters is what people DO to each other.  How people FEEL is only relevant to them.  Now, I know what you're thinking, it's not a great idea to TAKE ADVICE from a movie they let JAKE BECKER into (watch for the guy with floppy, blonde hair, a black t-shirt, glasses, cargo shorts and sandals walking up the sidewalk and checking out some girls ass from 1:16-1:25) and that's fair.  But still, where else are people supposed to learn life lessons?  And why isn't Zach Braff qualified to dole them out?  With this random thought out of the way, I digress...

After a day of terrifically uninteresting NFL games, only one day removed from all the amazing college football games I watched yesterday, my brain is fried but bored.  Which is why I decided it would be a good idea to write.  Now, since you're not me or one of the 8 people I talked to in the last few days, you probably wouldn't know that I've had a concussion for the past week.  You see, last Monday while casually tooling around Portland, I was rear-ended.  I didn't think it was that bad, but apparently it was hard enough to ruin my (well, the company car's) bumper, give me whiplash (still quite sore) and give me a concussion (that's what she said...?  Get it?  "Hard enough?"  Sorry...).  I honestly have no idea how fast the lady was going when she hit me, but I suppose it doesn't actually matter, the results are what they are.  In full disclosure and because nobody asked, I've had at least half a dozen concussions from playing sports when I was younger, obviously football being the biggest culprit, but I don't remember them being this bad or lasting this long.  It's been almost a week and I still can't quite see straight.  It's close but still isn't 100%.  I still get headaches when I'm up and moving around more than a few minutes.  Even writing this is taking way longer than it should.  Luckily, I can edit this as I go, or holy shit, it would be borderline unintelligible; if it already isn't.

Now for those who haven't had the pleasure of a concussion, it is not fun.  In addition to the blurry/double vision, the headaches and the diminished brain function, there's also nausea and dizziness; which, thankfully, have mostly subsided.  In short, they're everything they're built up to be.  But the worst part, by far, is what you can do while concussed, which is:  NOTHING.  Everything makes your head throb and makes you feel sick.  Light, sound, movement, everything is the worst.  Even reading is too difficult with the blurry/double vision making you want to swallow a bottle of ibuprofen to try and numb the pain.  The only thing I could do, for the WHOLE WEEK, was lay on the couch, lights off, and softly play TV reruns in the background to keep me from dying of boredom.  It's only been the last two days that I've gotten off the couch at all, besides to pee and poo.  Even right now, I have a headache coming on...  Again, not fun...

So, I'll wrap this up.  A little shorter than normal but it's all I can do.  The thing I really wanted to impart was a record I recently rediscovered.  And I mean "rediscovered" literally.  I've been trying for years to pull this back out of the fucking wasteland that is my brain with no success.  I couldn't remember the band name, the album title, any of the song titles or lyrics; nothing Google-able.  All I had was vague memories of the cover art and a few hummable melodies.  I knew it was a folky, boy-girl duo thing that peaked about 10 years ago.  For the past five years, I've been actively scouring record stores with the hope that I would randomly bump back into this record, to no avail.  But, finally, on one of those Spotify "recommended listens" playlists, a song by this band popped up.  I didn't recognize the name but the voices instantly sent off alarm bells in my brain.  This was it!  I was so excited and I could barely contain myself as I reconnected with this lost, old friend.  I've never been able to pin down exactly what it is about this record that makes me feel the way I do about it, but that doesn't change my love for it in any way.  I have stories I could tell about it, but my head is not in the right place and I'm starting to feel dizzy again.  So, I'll leave you with this:

The Weepies - Say I Am You


These truly are songs for the soul.  I feel instantly warmed, sad, nostalgic, hopeful, yearning, loved, lonely and full of grace.  I could listen to "Citywide Rodeo" (starts at 9:58) on repeat for years.  Not hours, fucking years.  I'm serious.  As serious as any concussed human can be...

More drinking, more playlist and more stories!!

Started with two martinis tonight, so I'm gonna be honest up front:  I'm going to talk a lot more about each song.  Previously, I've given snippets but, fuck, it's been a hell of a week and I'm ready to explore my feelings...  Ha!  Well, explore some music and bask in the overarching glow that it gives me in my time of need.  And, amen, I'm in need of some fucking music-lovin' tonight.  Might be a strange journey we traverse together, but trust me, it'll be worth it.  I know I'm not the only one that struggles from time to time, so hopefully someone else can also get a little enjoyment out of the randomness that consumes my music listening whilst drinking.  Or when not drinking.  There's too much music and too little time.  Life always gets in the fucking way of enjoying things, so let's fully enjoy this hour of our night with a cocktail, beer or wine of choice and relish in the comfort of some well-crafted musical pieces.  Without further ado, lest I ramble like I always seem to, let's sally forth to the music!!  Just a quick note, though.  Fuck Sam Bradford for playing the game of his life on Sunday night.  Seriously, Fuck off Mr. Deer-in-the-Headlights look who has done nothing but disappoint his whole career.  I don't think he's suddenly great, but man, hell of a good time to play like he's never played before.  I feel like this will be the old "High Fidelity" thing of looking back on this game with reverence like someone looks back on the night their band opened for Nirvana.  He'll look back fondly but never relive a greater glory in his life.  Or maybe he was playing possum because he secretly wanted to get to the same city that housed Mary Richards, the fictional, but still actually coked-out, TV news anchor.  We'll probably never know the real truth, will we, Mr. Bradford?  Oh yeah, no rambling; Music!

1. Dixie Chicks - "There's Your Trouble"

Gotta start the night off easy.  This one is fun and the video is so deliciously 90's.  I loved all those women country artists who crossed over into the pop world in the mid-to-late 90's.  Shania, Faith, LeAnn, Deana and of course, those dang ol' Dixie Chicks.  Sidenote:  I wish Faith Hill was still doing the Sunday Night Football theme...  Carrie Underwood is also pretty to look at, but the new song... Meh...

2. Elliott Smith - "Angeles"

I know...  It's a little early in the night for a tune like this.  But I don't plan these out.  You're living this shit with me.  Welcome to my brain, the theme park ride...  I can't tell you how many times I've played this album and, indeed, listened to "2:45 A.M" at that exact time...  Sometimes depression and insomnia mix ever so sweetly.

3. Rilo Kiley - "Does He Love You?"

This fucking record, "More Adventurous," is some fucking record.  So many great songs.  "Portions for Foxes" is on my all-time-songs-I-love-to-cover-with-a-Rock-N'-Roll-band list.  That's pretty specific, but goddamn, I could listen to this record everyday.  Even the songs the dude sings aren't half bad.  The linked video doesn't sound the best, but man, this fucking song rocks so hard at the end; after Jenny Lewis' character realizes her misguided love.  I often think back on playing this shit (way louder than I should have been) in my shitty apartment in Madison, WI, also at 2:45 A.M., pretending to fall asleep as I tried to hide from my insomnia...  I'm much smarter now, as I know bourbon (or gin) is the answer.

4. Shakira - "Whenever, Wherever"

I immediately bought "Laundry Service" upon hearing this tune.  And, after seeing the video (on MTV, no less.  Yes, children, they used to play music on the Music TeleVision channel), I was hooked "thereover, hereunder."  I could literally (yes, you fucking Hipsters, actually literally) watch her dance in those leather pants and bikini top on loop til I die.  If I wasn't fucking writing this list, I probably would...

5. Nelly Furtado - "Turn off the Light"

One of the guys that I lived with in Madison, WI was a massive fan of Nelly Furtado.  I had originally heard that song about her being like a bird and thought it was OK.  It was kinda different from the other shit I was hearing on the radio at that time but didn't blow me away.  I was intrigued but didn't really follow through and get into it.  He eventually convinced me to give this record a chance.  This is the song that got me.  Her voice wasn't your typical bullshit pop star voice.  She wasn't just another random blonde, white chick.  She was foreign and sexy and shit.  And this song definitely wasn't another boring, trope-y pop song.  There is something happening here that is the combination of a bunch of cool shit and I can't help but love it, immensely.

6. My Bloody Valentine - "No More Sorry"

I fucking love this band.  I can't get enough of them.  Did they kill Creation Records?  Maybe, but if "Loveless" is the cause of that, then fuck it, it was worth it.  This song and their first full album "Isn't Anything" isn't quite the masterpiece that "Loveless" is but I quite often find myself often returning to it.  Songs like this one plus "Sueisfine," "Lose My Breath," "I Can See It (But I Can't Feel It)," etc. are brilliant and would be celebrated much more had they not somehow found another gear (the way in movies there is always another "magic" gear that somehow only the protagonist uses as they drive past the lesser characters and the villain of the piece) and blown everyone's mindgrapes with "Loveless."

7. The Mountain Goats - "Sept 16 Triple X Love! Love!"

One of the biggest disappointments in my life was narrowly missing out on opening for a solo John Darnielle/The Mountain Goats show back in 2005.  I was living in Madison, WI (God, Wisconsin must be on the brain tonight) and Jake and I were performing acoustically as Tyger that Sleeps.  We were trying to get a show at this place just off the UW-Madison campus called, well, I don't remember what the fuck it was called, but it was on State St.  (EDITOR'S NOTE:  It was the Catacombs Coffeehouse)  They liked our demo but wouldn't let us play the John Darnielle show since it was a 21 and up show (Jake and I were 20 and 18 respectively).  Such a let down.  We even went so far as to contact the Mountain Goats booking manager to see if they could get us on the bill.  No dice.  And, to top it all off, they wouldn't even let us in to watch the show...  I hope that place burned to the ground.  Or, I think it might've become a Subway; a fate much worse than death.  Either way, it wasn't even the most disappointing time I couldn't get into a show that year.

8. Great Lake Swimmers - "I Saw You in the Wild"

Cafe Montmartre, Summer 2005.  It was late summer, maybe September.  It had been hot most of that day but the clouds weren't looking particularly pleasant as the day transformed into night.  The show was first come, first serve and, as it turns out, Andrew Bird was much more popular than we thought.  It was Jake, my girlfriend at the time and me.  We excitedly headed over to see a Tony Dekker solo show.  Jake and I were hopelessly in love with the Great Lake Swimmers eponymous first album and were beyond excited to see this man at such an intimate venue.  Only we miscounted the men, Liz.  We got in line around 8pm, with the show at 9pm.  Shortly thereafter, it started to rain.  Slowly, the rain got heavier and heavier.  As we stood there getting soaked, amongst the other 50-75 people in line, the venue kept telling us they would let more of us in, in just a bit.  Turns out they also miscounted the men, and after standing in the pouring rain for the better part of an hour, we were told there was no more room.  The show was officially "sold out."  Dejected, drenched and thoroughly denied the aural pleasure we so desired, we headed home.  Jake headed back to the apartment.  My girlfriend at the time and I, already wet, walked to the JMP (James Madison Park) and swang on the swings in the rain, watched the fish and ducks in the rain, and generally acted like little children, splashing in puddles and running amok (we so rarely get to "run amok" as an adult).  When we got back to my apartment we were wet, muddy, tired and I had almost forgotten about my disappointment in missing the show.  And, at the end of the night, I still got laid.  So I have that going for me, which is nice...

9. Jens Lekman - "Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo"

Remember when Pitchforkmedia.com was a reliable source for introducing and critiquing new music?  I recall buying everything they gave an 8.5 or higher rating and just fucking loving it.  They never missed.  They brought so many new artists and albums into my life, like Jens Lekman and his collection of brilliant pop tunes called "Oh You're So Silent Jens."  I played that shit like it was the cure for cancer.  I loved it.  I cherished it.  I gave away the only physical copy I've found just so another human could enjoy Jens' songs the way I did.  So, needless to say, I was pumped as fuck when I found out Jens was releasing a new record.  I had built up "Oh You're So Silent Jens" so much in my head, I didn't think anything new would hold up.  But it did.  I love this album and this song is by far my favorite; probably my favorite Jens song altogether.  Definitely my most played.  And trust me, that's saying a lot.  It's just so goddamn fun...

10. The Prodigy - "Firestarter"

I can't believe this wasn't the first song I put on a drinking playlist.  Two things:  First, I remember hearing/seeing The Prodigy on MTV2 late one night shortly after it was released.  "Breathe" was the first song I heard from them.  I don't know if I missed "Firestarter," or they actually released "Breathe" first in the States, but either way I fucking hated it.  My 11 year old brain couldn't figure out what the hell this was or why anyone would like it.  It was so fucking weird.  The two singers were all sorts of not-from-rural-Southeastern-Wisconsin and didn't quite compute in my tiny, still-evolving brain.  BUT, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Shortly after, I saw/heard "Firestarter," once again on MTV2.  I still didn't like it, but once again, I couldn't shake the images and sounds from my head.  Then I saw the video for "Smack My Bitch Up" and I was in love.  It was such a dramatic music video and such a statement at around the same time shit like THIS was happening.  I bought the cassette, never told my mom about it, for fear she would take it away, and listened to it religiously on my Walkman while vacuuming the house or mowing the lawn.  At the time, I alternated only two tapes, "Fat of the Land" and Boyz II Men's "II," in my Walkman.  That was until "The Slim Shady LP" entered my world and I found the second tape I wouldn't tell my mom about...

Second, any Prodigy song always reminds me of one of the best nights of my life and how The Prodigy were the undisputed high point of that night.  My girlfriend and I were visiting my family back in Wisconsin and stayed for a couple of nights in Milwaukee.  We were close to Old World/3rd Street area.  We found a piano bar on 3rd that was a hoot and half.  After meeting another couple, one of whom was a former Canadian Metal Singer (the husband), we set off on the nights journey.  We tried a couple more bars before running into some random guy whose buddy was a bartender at another bar that had a DJ and dance floor, or some shit like that.  By that point of the night, dancing sounded like the best fucking thing ever in the history of the world, so we hopped in a cab with "random guy" and he made good on his promise.  He not only got us some free drinks, but brought us to a dance floor.  The DJ was awesome and dancing filled the rest of the night.  The floor was packed and people were in good spirits.  After a while, I mentioned to my girlfriend that it would probably be the best thing ever if he would play some Prodigy.  She urged me to ask Mr. DJ.  I was going to when I realized it was probably advantageous to our position should a pretty girl make the request, as he would, therefore, be more inclined to acquiesce.  So she ran up and chatted him up a bit.  I'll never forget the look on his face the moment she must have said the words "The Prodigy."  They were having a good little conversation, she had obviously complimented him, when suddenly, he was taken aback, in a good way.  He smiled and I knew then that we were in business.  He then did play some Prodigy ("Smack My Bitch Up") and it indeed was the best thing ever.  What more in life could you want besides a pretty girl, the Prodigy and a dance floor?  Fucking seriously...

11. Iron and Wine - "The Trapeze Swinger"

I've made it this far without mentioning the sentimentality bug.  Well, fuck...  I could regale you with interesting (or sort-of-interesting, depending on your own personal level of narcissism) tales about this song, but I could write 10,000 words on what this songs means, and has meant, to me.  This song defined a time, a place, a relationship, a bout of depression, A New Hope (ha!) and the way that I think about music and the notion that certain songs can actually soundtrack our lives.  There are quite a few records and songs I think of this way, but few are more integral and embedded than this one.  I won't go into it now, but suffice it to say, it was sad.  And happy, in remembrance.  And hopeful.  And truthful.  And long.  Somehow the experience, feeling, emotion and scars lasted longer than this song...  And that's a feat as there's nineteen thousand verses in this song.  And each one is better and sadder than the last; just like life...

Well, goodnight y'all.  I've barely the competence to speak, let alone write, so I'm out.  Til we meet again...


September 11th thoughts... Remember, I think many of them...

Annual September 11th thoughts and musings...


Like many Americans this weekend, I've been reflecting heavily on what happened 15 years ago and what it means to me; not in a selfish way, just in a personal sense as the events, like for most, are still vividly present, and always will be, in my mind.  I'm certain we all will, at some point, think back to where we were, what we were doing, what we felt, what we thought, how we held and supported those around us, how we tried to make sense of what we were seeing and experiencing, how we prayed for those in New York City living through this nightmare, but mostly, we were trying to figure out just how much this would help propel the career of a one Mr. Ryan Adams based on THIS.  OK, that last part was a joke, sort of.  Besides that, there are always a few things I can't help but be reminded of when September 11th rolls around.  Without irony (looking at you Hipsters), I'd like to say that I love my America, just like all those lame Country songs boldly proclaim while simultaneously giving off the impression they exist solely to capitalize on the sentiment rather than to present and celebrate it.  I truly feel blessed to live in this great nation, and though it has its FAULTS, I don't need fucking Donald Trump to make it "great again."  And, it's fucking offensive for him to say that it isn't great and he's the only fucking one who can do anything about it.  So, with that, Fuck Trump 2016 and here's my thoughts that I think:

Music


The main thing I can't help but feel grateful for is the fact that I live in a country which not only allows, but also encourages, me to create, perform, record and release music of my own creation.  Now, I realize that America is not the only country to give its artists carte blanche but I won't ever forget the conversations I had with a woman named Ling I met in Seattle.  Ling was born and raised in China for the first 30 years of her life.  When she was young, she had an aunt and uncle of hers move to the United States, New York City to be exact, and she had always hoped to someday join them.  By her 30th birthday, she and her parents had saved enough money for her to go.  She arrived in New York wide-eyed and was dead-set on taking it all in.  At the time, I had never been to New York but was dreaming of moving there.  I asked her a lot of questions about the City and her experiences living there.  For instance, what was her favorite thing to do?  Go to Broadway shows, plays or live music performances, was her response.  She marveled at the diversity of subject matter and the celebration of art she saw.  She spoke of her homeland and how restricted it all was there.  No piece of music, art, performance, etc. was allowed to be presented publicly without governmental consent.  It was all strictly censored and monitored.  Most music was nationalistic in nature, as were the plays and musicals.  She even told me of a close family friend who was arrested after displaying a painting in a gallery without permission and then refusing to destroy it.  That's what she came from.  I can't even imagine how fucking mind-blowing New York City and its troves of art must have been to her.  She mentioned, many times, how it felt like she was living in a dream.  She said she could've spent a lifetime just taking it all in, and that she was trying her best to do so.  She lived in a tiny apartment and was frugal as fuck so she could spend all her extra money on going to the symphony and to art museums and Rock N' Roll shows (which she didn't actually like but was in love with the idea of).  It was inspiring to hear her talk of how much she loved America and how wonderful she felt it was.  Whenever I think of Ling and the conversations I had with her, I feel so blessed.  Here I am, some schmuck from a tiny town, population 3500, in Southeastern Wisconsin (Horicon, WI for those keeping score at home), who has been able to play my music at hundreds and hundreds of shows across this great country and back.  My whole life has been shaped and influenced by something that not everyone even gets to enjoy.  I can't imagine what my life would look like if it were not for music.  I don't think I'd even have one anymore, to be honest.  I think about that a lot, and about the men and women who volunteer to defend that privilege on my behalf...

The Armed Forces


I don't think many people understand just how close I was to joining the Army.  I was too young to join immediately after the attacks on September 11th, 2001 and after waiting the additional 4 years, I was, by that time, no longer in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I had a lot of friends who were a few years older than I who went and served their country.  When they came back, very few weren't greatly affected by what they had seen.  After a few cocktails, we would get snippets of what it was like over there.  I had a few friends who loved it and were destined to be in the military for life but most were happy to come home unharmed; although, only physically.  When they left Horicon to serve, I was jealous.  When they arrived home, I was grateful because they were OK (physically, at least) and for what they had done.  I ofttimes wonder how I would've done as a soldier.  I think I would've done a good job but I don't know how I would've handled things.  Mentally, I think I could've compartmentalized the violence I saw, and possibly participated in (thanks Asperger's!), but I also know that the hardest thing in the world for me to do is something I don't believe in.  If I had been sent to Iraq instead of hunting Osama in Afghanistan, I would have definitely had a hard time with it.  Ultimately, I think I made the right decision but it's not hard to imagine my "Alternate 1985" in which I enlist and have an entirely different life's story.  

One of my best friends is an ex-Marine.  He came to this country from Scotland and enlisted to become a citizen.  Like most Marines, he was eventually called to action overseas.  I can't imagine what he experienced.  I've never explicitly asked much about it because I don't think I really want to know.  I can say though, that I feel like he's more of an American citizen than I am because of his service.  I have so much respect for what he's done for our country, and conversely, he has so much respect for what I do as a musician.  We both see the opposite as something we could never be, but trust me, his decision was much harder.  After all, ANYONE CAN PLAY GUITAR...

New York City


When I think of September 11th and what that date means to me, I'm always instantly reminded of two stories from my time in New York.  I moved there in 2006, so these stories are from 5 years later, but the attacks are still very fresh in everyone's minds.  It's so hard to imagine what the people living there at the time went through.  It was unlike anything that had happened to our country for 60 years.  Obviously, I don't have the same connection to that day as those New Yorkers, but twice I felt as though I at least understood some of what they went through.

Tale #1


I had been in New York for about six months and things were going well.  I worked at the Office Depot in Times Square (my 5th different Office Depot store.  I owe Office Depot a lot for allowing me to have a job wherever I decided to move, all across the country) which was pretty fucking cool.  I had a great group of friends, had a good grasp of the geography of the City and was starting to feel like a real New Yorker.  Life was pretty fucking awesome, for once.  That's when I got a small taste of what the events of September 11th had done to the greatest city in the history of mankind.

We were a good 4 or 5 blocks away, on 41st and Broadway, but we both heard and felt it.  The ground shook and there was the sound of a dull explosion.  Immediately we could hear the screams.  Without thinking, many of us ran outside to see what was happening.  When I got over to 6th Ave., I could see the crowds of people streaming through Bryant Park.  You could tell by the way the were running, scattering like buckshot, that they were running away from something but didn't know exactly where to go.  Then I heard another someone shout the word "bomb" and quickly turned to join the crowds.  I made it back to the store and found our buddy Kenny, who worked at the Staples a couple blocks from Grand Central, standing there in the doorway.  He was visibly shaken and hyper beyond belief.  The adrenaline had taken over his body and he couldn't stop moving.  He was talking a mile a minute and we could hardly understand what he was saying.  All any of us heard come out of his mouth was the word "bomb" and then we all started to panic a bit more.  We asked why he came here.  "I don't know," he said, "It was the only place I could think of after I started running."  We went downstairs.  Our Office Depot was a two-story building, the bottom of which was technically a basement, which felt safer to us.  We went to the TV display section and flipped on the news.  The police had cordoned off the streets around Grand Central and the bomb squads were searching the area.  We saw lots of images of dogs sniffing around and people in ridiculous padded uniforms that might protect you from a paintball attack but not a bomb.  A million things raced through our brains but I could tell right away that there was this sense of terrifying familiarity with what was going on.  "It's happening again!" someone shouted, which only enhanced the feeling of dread spreading throughout the room.

My boss and I ran upstairs to help pull people off the street into the store; neither one of us knowing if that was any safer for them, but the streets were a fucking mess and at least no one would get trampled in here.  After a while, things started to calm down.  All of the sudden, the streets turned from a madhouse to a ghost town, without a soul in sight.  I was glad of that.  I went back downstairs where everyone was crowded in front of the TV's which were on full volume.  Everyone was silent.  Whenever a small group would start to build themselves into a fervor, they would be told to quiet down.  Everyone's rapt attention was to be kept on the screens.  Every once in a while you'd hear a "What did they just say?" followed by a "Hey, shhh," followed by a hushed recap of what had just been reported.  After what seemed like an hour, but could've been a matter of minutes, they finally revealed what we had been waiting to hear:  what caused the explosions and whether or not it was terrorists.  It turns out it was not terrorists at all, it was the fault of the terrifically old plumbing and sewage system in the City.  An old water pipe had burst and exploded through the pavement.  There was no bomb, the water had been shut off in that area and there was nothing more to be worried about.

Another pipe would burst nearby later that summer but hardly anyone cared.  It was old hat by then.  As soon as we heard it, someone quipped, "Probably another one of those old fucking pipes," and that was that.  But I won't soon forget the all-too-familiar fear and panic I saw when that first pipe burst.  

Tale #2:


When I moved to New York, I was broke as fuck.  I was lucky because my buddy, A.J. (or Austin, as he preferred to be called as an adult, though I always called him "A.J." the same way he always called me "Brad") had a lot more money saved up than I, as he had moved back to Horicon (he previously moved to San Francisco with me after Jake backed out do to his cardiac ablation surgery.  That ablation was fuckin' everything up...) to work, save money and try and fuck this chick he'd wanted to bang since High School.  I think he was successful though he was always coy about it, which, conversely, made me think he somehow never got there.  Either way, while he was back, he and his dad met this guy, Michael, at a car show in Chicago.  A.J.'s dad made custom parts for Porsches.  Michael just so happened to live on Staten Island.  After talking for a while with A.J. and his dad, he agreed to put us up while we got our shit together in New York.  I can't thank him enough as I don't think we would've been able to move to New York without him agreeing to put up a couple kids in his basement for a few weeks.

Michael and his family were some of the nicest people I've ever met in my whole life.  They were so generous towards us and were like a TV-version of a New York/Italian family, in the best possible sense.  They cared deeply for one another, and even for us, who they had agreed to put up sight unseen.  And, of course, both Michael and his wife were terrific cooks.  I can't thank them enough for how kind and giving they were.  Part of me wished I could just stay with them, but after a couple weeks of getting our work situations figured out and then finding an apartment we actually could afford, we were ready to move out.  Michael offered to give us the extra mattresses we had been sleeping on while staying in their basement and to deliver them to our new place.  We happily obliged.

I'll never forget the drive we made that night.  We loaded up Michael's SUV with the mattresses and what little A.J. and I had brought with us to New York, a couple of duffle bags full of clothes and a guitar, and headed across the Verrazano.  Michael told us how he used to drive this route everyday when he was firefighter; he was now retired.  He worked in the Red Hook/Gowanus area.  He said how happy he was that we had found a place in the City, as he mostly knew Brooklyn before the current wave of gentrification had taken place and he didn't want two young kids from a small town in Wisconsin living there.  As we drove, he pointed out a few landmarks and picked out his old firehouse.  As we drove north, he grew silent.  After a short while, we could see the Brooklyn Bridge.

Back at the house before we left, when he told us he would take us across it, his wife was sort of taken aback.  A sullen look came across her face as she said to Michael, "Are you sure?"  It was an odd moment that A.J. and I clearly didn't understand, but there was no explanation offered.  Michael nodded and off we went.

With the bridge coming better into view, Michael broke the silence that had taken over the car.  He said, "I haven't been back over this bridge since that day..."  He took a long pause.  "I'll never forget the scene," he said, "cars were backed up and everyone was in a panic to get out of the City.  The other side of the bridge was a nightmare but our side, the road we're on now, was wide-open.  No one was heading into the City.  No one had any idea what the fuck was going on.  All we could see was the panicked people trying to get away, the towers which were, by then, smoking and the dust.  The closer we got, the worse the dust got.  The first building had already gone down by the time we got there.  It was just people screaming, covered head to toe in dust.  Then, the second one came down.  I lost some good friends that day.  We were all just so scared..."

We drove in silence the rest of the way.  Neither A.J. nor I knew what to say.  What could we say?  We had no way of knowing how he must have felt at that moment, reliving that day.  We found out later that after September 11th, 2001 the family always drove up to Jersey City and through the Holland Tunnel to get to the City, though it added an extra 30 or so minutes to their trip.  The whole family had explicitly avoided the Brooklyn Bridge for years.  Taking that drive with Michael really made me realize and appreciate what was given and sacrificed that day by all those brave men and women of the FDNY.  It's impossible not to tear up when I think back on Michael's words that night...

So, that's it.  I felt compelled today to express what I've been thinking about for the past week.  This day always weighs heavily on my mind and on my heart.  Oh yeah, and before I forget, GO PACK GO!!!

Everything isn't always the worst... Just sometimes...

Is life the worst?  And, if it is, how often?  Are we talking about all the fucking time?  Or just during the summer?  Who knows...  Let's explore...


One of the things that ofttimes gets lost in my rabbit hole-ian brain is the fact that most of the time life is pretty fucking awesome.  I'm one of those sad sort that seems to relish the opportunity to dwell on the negative minutiae of anything, however trivial.  It's easier, somehow, for my (Aspergian) brain to dwell on the one goddamn thing that drives me fucking mad, as opposed to, say, the ninety-nine other things that are perfectly fine.  After investing innumerable amounts of time, energy and focus into something, I can completely convince myself, and usually others, if for no other reason, as is often the case, than to just shut me the fuck up, that whatever thing I'm destined to destroy, like so many innocent planets in the Star Wars galaxy, is simply the most vile thing ever to be encountered and must be blown to smithereens at once.  It must cease to exist, fully and forever, and never be discussed in open forum so as to reawaken the loathsome beast inside me and unleash its fury, once again, upon its unsuspecting, and mostly uncaring, victims.  My poor girlfriend has undoubtedly heard all of my rants on numerous occasions, and whether she agrees with me or not, it's become her job to placate me regardless lest she wants the longform version (again) which usually includes trips to the computer, passages read from books, CD listens, etc. to prove my (by now, quite insane) point of view.  You can imagine, no doubt, how this can ruin even some of the best things in my life.

Let me give you an example so you can more fully be immersed in this experience.  I don't want people thinking that this is mostly related to grand political, artistic or ideological stands.  It's not.  Here's a real-life example that happened just last week.

My wonderful, absurdly intelligent, handsome, charming, caring and bespectacled brother recently came out to Portland, Oregon for a visit.  It was his third voyage in the past year, his second with his lovely girlfriend.  Obviously preferring the mild coastal climate and the delicious salmon, as many do, he relishes his trips to the Pacific Northwest.  And we are more than excited to host him, although he should probably just fucking move here for fuck's sake, but that's for another time.  One of the highlights of an excursion to Portland, a city bereft of fun, touristy-type things to do, the type of things found in places like New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, etc., is a visit to Powell's Books.  Now, normally, I would not venture a trip there.  Powell's is one of those nightmarish, paralyzing kind of places for a person with Asperger's.  It's unimaginably large for a bookstore, crowded to the hilt with a large quantity of people of the genre I desperately try to avoid (read:  the most prevalent inhabitant of Portland, the "Hipster" or "anti-Hipster," or whatever the fuck they call themselves nowadays, I can't keep up) and I don't have the layout memorized so I wander aimlessly and can never fucking find anything until I get so pissed off by the people shopping, or just fucking standing around hanging out and generally being in the way, and by the fact that the organization of the books isn't laid out in any goddamn way that makes sense to me, that I just fucking leave and swear to never return.  So, that's where we were and I was actually having a pleasant time since I was just there to be there and not actually trying to find/buy anything.  My brother and his girlfriend, the "Kids" as I call them (they're so young still, at twenty-one and nineteen, respectively), were having fun being overwhelmed by the scene I just described, but in the way a normal person might drink it in and appreciate its uniqueness as a singular bookstore experience.

We were just about to bid "adieu" to Powell's, with the Kids making a final perusal of the Powell's-branded merchandise for a take home memento, when I, as I am wont to do, started looking over the clearance items and stumbled upon THIS.  Now, for those who aren't aware, "Breakfast of Champions" or "Goodbye Blue Monday" is more than likely my favorite novel ever.  I'm currently on my third copy, as I've worn out one altogether, with the pages falling out and shit, the second is currently beginning a life in a similar state, but not quite unreadable as of yet, and the third, still of the used variety, is wrapped in paper awaiting its turn.  In all of the years I've spent moving around this great country of ours, I've carried with me only a small handful of items, ever constant and essential.  They include:

- My gym bag from the 4th grade basketball team, inscribed with:  "Horicon Booster Club" and below that "Brad Wik," on the side pocket.  I always filled this with the clothes I deemed irreplaceable, of which I only retain one item:  my red Adidas gym shorts, with three black stripes down each side, Adidas-style, which I've had since the 7th grade.  I'm a big fan of pockets in shorts, which these have, and of shorts that reside somewhere between the short shorts of the 1970's and what have become of athletic shorts in recent times (read:  too long and baggy).  These shorts are of perfect construction and length, and I'll probably die with these shorts; to say nothing of the gym bag, which I'll never part with, unless it came to a death-match type situation with the next item...

- My Martin D-15 acoustic guitar.  It's constructed of solid mahogany, from the neck to the sides to the top and back.  It's beautiful to look at and has such a distinct sound as compared to most acoustic guitars; the majority of which are constructed with spruce top and rosewood sides.  It is my most prized earthly possession and I would risk death, forging forth into a fiery apartment, at the expense of possible deformation, to save my guitar's life.  Only my guitar, girlfriend and cat are worthy of such a distinction.

- The nine CD's listed HERE

- Lastly, and perhaps most profoundly, the following seven books:

1.  "Breakfast of Champions" or "Goodbye Blue Monday" by Kurt Vonnegut
2.  "Franny and Zooey" by J.D. Salinger
3.  "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman
4.  "Cash" by Johnny Cash
5.  "Bound for Glory (book)" by Woody Guthrie
6.  "Chronicles Volume One" by Bob Dylan
7.  "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

So, of the nineteen items (counting the shorts, which I'm currently wearing, coincidentally, not "ironically" Alanis.  Fucking learn the difference) I carried with me across the United States of America and back, and then back again, as it were, "Breakfast of Champions" was one of my most beloved.  The only book I own that could possibly rival "Breakfast of Champions" in reads is "Weirdos from Another Planet!" the Calvin and Hobbes collection.  But even that would be a stretch, to say the least.  So, to sum up this point, I would say that I was ecstatic to find a coffee mug with the "Breakfast of Champions" logo on it.  I was so excited that even from this store which exemplified the very existence of the "Hipster" culture, I was decidedly forced to buy this coffee mug and be happy about it.  And I was, for a while, at least...

I was so happy I decided, with my girlfriend as a guide, of course, to go look for some additional books to buy.  Normally, I would never subject myself to such torture, which I've previously described fully, but I felt so inspired by my Kurt Vonnegut mug that I sallied forth with a hitherto unknown sense of bravery in regards to Powell's.  I found a used copy of "As I Lay Dying" that I wished to own as well.  As we made our way back to the registers, I felt a twinge of what I call "Hipster-guilt," which is, of course, the Catholic reaction to doing anything which might be described as "Hipster-shit."  Buying a Vonnegut-inspired coffee mug and a used copy of "As I Lay Dying," complete with analysis and commentary, could most definitely be defined as "Hipster-shit."  But, then again, there's the other side of me that reacts violently to the fact that hipsters seem to claim things I love, whether ironically or not.  So, the anti-Hipster part of me fires up and wants to do things doubly as a result of how those cocksuckers tray and make me feel bad about enjoying some piece of art.  How dare those pieces of shit make me feel bad about myself.  I'm the one they should bow to, those cunts.  I'm the one they don't even know they're stealing from mercilessly.  They should be defined by me, not the other way around...  Needless to say, I bought the fucking mug.  Fuck those Hipsters...

I'm sure by this point you're wondering "what's the point of all this?"  "What does this have to do with you dwelling on the minutiae of things?"  Well, goddammit, you needn't be so impatient, you fuckers.  I'm getting there.  Not every truth can be found in less than a thousand words.

I excitedly brought the mug home, proud of my find.  As you would with any store bought item related to food consumption, I washed the mug to ready it for the following morn.  The next morning I awoke, excited yet tentative, as I had to push my Green Bay Packers mugs to the side to enjoy my morning cup of Joe in this new vessel I had obtained.  It's hard for me to make even the most simple of changes, like a different coffee mug, in my life.  It's stupid and I realize it's stupid, but that doesn't make it any easier.  But I wanted this.  I wanted to make this new mug work.  I poured in the milk, as anyone who drinks coffee regularly knows, adding the milk before the coffee ensures that it is mixed thoroughly without dirtying up a spoon.  As I was pouring in the milk I saw it.  The small bump that would henceforth haunt my coffee drinking days.  It was merely a tiny defect in the production process, no larger than a grain of sand but it was there.  And, from the moment I knew it was there, I couldn't neglect its presence.  I'm right-handed and when I'm holding the mug in the drinking position the bump is facing towards me on the inside the cup.  Now, my lip cannot feel it while drinking that delicious, warm elixir.  It doesn't actually affect my morning caffeine experience, but I know it's there and that's enough for me.  It sometimes has ruined my morning.  It doesn't actually affect anything, but it does.  And, since I love the mug's design so much, I'm tempted to order another one online.  I know that the tiny imperfection will forever bother me, so I may have to pony up for a second.  The original mug was perfect in every way except it had an extremely minor imperfection that I know I will probably never move past.  I now might have to pay full price, plus the clearance price, for a mug (well, two mugs) because I can't accept a tiny imperfection, which didn't actually change or mean anything, and just go about my business.  A perfectly good mug was ruined by my affixing on that which was uneventful and I could not change.  Nonetheless, I'll dream of the day when I stop being so cheap and just order the damn second mug; this one unmarred and beholden of my lips to drink from...

All of this to say that sometimes life is the worst.  But most of the time it is not.  And the greatest example of this is Music.  As fucked up as life is on a day to day basis, Music is the one thing that can alleviate the pain enough for me to continue on, strong and full of zest, or with something close to a full dose of zest.  Well, to be honest, quite often the bare minimum of zest, but zest nonetheless.  Now, to be sure, there is a large part of me pissed off beyond what anyone could possibly classify as "normal" about the current state of my most beloved Music, whether that be mainstream Rock N' Roll, alternative Rock, indie Rock, folk Rock, pop Rock, straight up Folk, country-tinged Folk, alt Country, Americana, singer-songwriter, or any of the other bullshit ways people now describe music that used to fit into three categories:  Rock, Pop, Independent.  My anger is expounded upon and illustrated thoroughly HERE and HERE.  It's easy to take stock, as I did, of the newer wave of artists and subsequently tear them apart.  If I were at least ten years older than I am, it would make perfect sense for me to begrudge these youngsters and their lack of talent and dearth of quality material.  It would be much more understandable for me to hate them and for them, in turn, to discount my opinion citing the age gap and how I "just don't get it."  But, unfortunately, I am in the same age range of these little pissants.  I am not quite old enough yet to tell these same Hipster artists/fucks to "Get off my lawn!"

Given this pathetic state of the thing I love so dearly, Music, it would be easy to go one of three ways:

1.  To withdraw into my own little world, more so than I already do, and fill my ears with nothing but Springsteen, Dylan, Stones, Petty, Joel, etc. and pretend people stopped making music many years ago and that is all which has survived and we should cherish it as such.  I would not waste any more time or energy on new music, hell, I wouldn't even acknowledge it still exists as an art form.

2.  To slowly start to distance myself from the thing I loved for so long.  To fill my days watching baseball and football and basketball.  To give up hope completely that things will ever turn around for Music and move on with my life, ingesting Music only passively as I go about my sad, remaining days, full of remembrances to a love that once was, but shall never be again.

3.  Hunting down every copy of every album ever made by Mumford and Sons, the Lumineers, the Head and the Heart, Fun., Twenty-One Pilots, Grouplove, the list goes on... and destroying them, thoroughly and cathartically, to rid the world of them.  Next would be finding every article, blog, twitter, email, text, interview, podcast, etc. and deleting or destroying those as well.  Only the vague memories of them would be left, as that would be un-erasable physically, but those would die off with this generation, a maximum of 80 or so years from now, removing them from history completely.

Number three sounds like too much work, so options one or two are the more likely of the bunch.  Instead, I choose option four (or option Favre as I call it):

4.  To delve deeper into the wonderful history of Music and uncover more of the countless bands and albums I still haven't yet found.  One lifetime isn't enough to enjoy it all, so I should relish what I have discovered and cherish the memories it's given me.  In fact, right now, which isn't "right now" for you in the same sense as it is to me, I should give thanks to a few records that pulled me through some tough times.  Here's the actual proof that life isn't always the worst.  Just sometimes...

Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain


This was a record that, like most, found me in High School.  Obviously, not when it initially was released but roughly ten years later.  There was something about it that I didn't quite understand but had always intrigued me.  It wasn't like the other nine CD's listed HERE.  There was a sadness, a desperation, a longing which existed as a part and apart from the music.  It created an aura that didn't actually exist at any time other than when the record was playing.  And I would come to need it.  A couple years out of High School, I moved to New York City.  I had long since left the comforts of Horicon, WI and was coming off stints in San Francisco and Seattle.  I was truly a traveling troubadour, complete with acoustic guitar and harmonica rack accessories.  I was hopelessly obsessed with becoming a folk singer, a very ill-conceived master plan, I must admit.  Armed with troves of Carter Family and Woody Guthrie tunes, plus dozens of my own creations, I was going to singlehandedly reanimate 1962 in the Village.  I truly believed that.  Seriously.  Me and about a thousand other girls and boys, who would all soon be devastatingly disappointed.  If you care, I go into more detail on this subject, HERE and HERE.

After having this dream so thoroughly destroyed, I briefly gave up music altogether.  After all, I didn't know how to write non-Folk lyrics or music.  I had spent years learning the nuance and intricacies of that genre and was unprepared to start over.  For six months, I didn't even touch a guitar.  I didn't sing, I didn't write; I had no inclination to continue forth on my path in music.  And that wasn't easy at all for me to accept.  I felt so lost and confused.  I had nothing else to fall back on.  I skipped college to pursue life as a folk-singer. I left my family and friends for this; for nothing.  But, in spite of giving up on playing music, I never stopped listening to music.  I couldn't.  All those mornings I sat slumped on the "L" train heading to work, aimless in life, ashamed of my failure, I would put on my headphones and play "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain."  There was something so comforting in escaping into the worlds created by "Elevate Me Later," "Cut Your Hair," "Gold Soundz," "Range Life" or, the coup d'etat, "Fillmore Jive" and how it fucking wrecks me every time with those unbelievably beautifully fucked-up guitar solos.  I can't tell you how many times, in a moment of weakness, I reminded myself "Hey, you gotta pay your dues before you pay the rent."  It became a sort of mantra during the harder times to remind myself that nothing comes easy or without sacrifice.  And it most certainly does not.  Or, at least not for me...

Ryan Adams - Rock N Roll


So, I'm well aware of the shit this record takes, especially in lieu of the rest of the Ryan Adams catalogue.  Trust me, I've seen plenty of reviews like THIS or THIS  or THIS over the years.  Almost all of my friends have laughed at me after hearing that I actually like this record.  Hell, you might even be laughing right now but I'm serious.  "Rock N Roll" was the first Ryan Adams record I bought.  Yes, I had heard "New York, New York" but was relatively unimpressed.  It was a good song but kind of fucked me off, though I couldn't describe why.  "Rock N Roll" put off the same vibe as the "Big Balls" version of AC/DC did:  we're here to fucking rock and have some fucking fun, so fuck you if you don't like it.  It's a vibe similarly displayed on Ryan & the Cardinals' "III/IV" album.  I mean, come on, who doesn't love THIS SHIT!  Anyways, this was one of the first "Independent" albums I ever bought.  Ryan's flippant attitude toward standardized songwriting, recording, singles, etc. was so goddamn exciting.  He was, and wasn't, complying to the rules of being a signed, commercial artist.  "Rock N Roll" was, along with Modest Mouse's "The Lonesome Crowded West," my first glimpse into a world where the artists got to do whatever the fuck they wanted and the labels supported them, so long as there was money to be made.  It was the conception of the idea, in my feeble teenage brain, that in creating music you can do whatever the fuck you want as long as it was good and you could sell it.  It was a dangerous thought and would shape my views on the creation of music going forward.

This may sound idiotic, but lyrically, this album taught me a lot.  I don't dwell too much on the specifics, although some of the phrases spoke to me immensely, both then and now.  I remember listening to this album with my mother on a getting-ready-for-school shopping trip when I was sixteen, and she couldn't help but comment upon hearing the line "It's all a bunch of shit, and there's nothing to do around here.  It's totally fucked up.  I'm totally fucked up.  Wish you were here..." that this album sounds a lot like me.  I took immense pride in that as I flipped through the liner notes and played it cool, trying not to express the excitement I felt in being, even vaguely, lumped in with a one Mr. David Ryan Adams.  I realize that the lyrics on this record aren't his finest, but I learned that, even if you're taking a piss, being honest and true to yourself was the only way to go in regards to the words you decide to put forth unto the world to represent you.  It was "Rock N Roll" that convinced me that anything I do must be one hundred percent honest and true to form, whatever that form may be, regardless of the audience, critics, etc.  Art must be truthful, even in its untruthfulness, as this record showed, for it to truly resonate with anyone.  The audiences are much smarter than artists sometimes imagine them to be,  and they deserve our truest and best efforts.  They know the difference and although the music-consuming public isn't on its game right now, it'll find its way back home.  It always does.  And good music will be waiting, grateful of its return...

Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway


For years, I kept a second acoustic guitar, tuned to the open tuning featured on "Glenn Tipton," around just so I could play that song.  It sounds silly to have a second guitar at the ready for one fucking song, but that's how much I loved that song and this album.  This record carried me through two separate, yet equally difficult, transitional times in my life:  my leaving home and my first real breakup.  Back towards the tail end of when Sony Walkman CD players were the preferred way to listen to music on the go, this was one of the two CD's (the Arcade Fire's "Funeral" being the other) I carried with me at all times when I would go for my nightly walk down E. Johnson St. in Madison, WI.  I would walk down E. Johnson til I hit Tenney Park, cut through the park and then head back up Sherman to Gorham and back home.  Or, equally as often, I would reverse that trip so I could walk along Lake Mendota on the way down to the park.  It was something I did nearly every single night during the year I lived on E. Johnson St.  Sometimes I would walk it almost obligatorily and be home within an hour.  Other times, I might find myself wandering for hours, without a particular destination, unable to return to the apartment shared with three other guys, including two other former Horicon-ites.  The insomnia, which I still sometimes suffer from, started here.  There were nights I wouldn't return home until almost dawn.  I didn't, and still don't, know what causes this but it still happens; although, less frequently, thank God, as it's much harder for me to make it to work the next day after two hours of sleep than it used to be.  I spent many a night on the verge on anxiety attacks only to be soothed by Mark Kozelek's deep, sexy voice and his wondrous compositions.  Mark is also the reason I moved to San Francisco, but that's a story for another day...

The second life-changing event I was able to successfully endure with the help of "Ghosts of the Great Highway" was my first real-life breakup.  Not a bullshit High School or Middle School breakup, but the real deal.  A full-on, we both said "I love you" as an adult, kind of deal.  Being fair to history, this was never a relationship that stood much of an honest chance at working out long-term, but it was exactly the kind of thing that two lonely, depressed, horny adult-kids needed.  I had no clue to the extent of which she was lonely and depressed, to say nothing of horny, which I would find out, in spectacular fashion no less, later on.  Which brings me back to this album, "Glenn Tipton" in particular.  The final verse of this song could have been written for me and *****.  It's tragic and damning and not particularly kind to either character, but that's often how life goes; at least, it was in our case.  I too "found her letters that said so many things that really hurt me bad."  I can never un-read the things I read and she can never un-write the things she wrote, but it's better that it happened the way it did.  I'm glad I found out what I did, and I'm sure she's happier now, however her life has turned out.  I know I am.  Sometimes things just work themselves out and sometimes records have songs about these events years before they happen to you.  It's like I've said for years, everything I do has been done many times before and it's endlessly comforting to hear people sing songs about it.  It always makes me feel so much less alone, and that, to me, is the greatest gift that Music can give...

So, there you go.  There's a little (more than you wanted) insight into my brain and thoughts on a Saturday night after a few bourbons.  Does anyone know if the Brewers won tonight?  Fuck, I'm tired...  OK, if you say so, self, one more...

Lyrics, huh, good God y'all, what are they good for??? Absolutely nothin'... Friday Night Playlist and shit...

One of the hardest things for me to accept and reconcile in the vast expanse of wasted space, dilapidated memories and deserted brain cells in this dang ol' cranium of mine (that sounds like a science-themed country song, if such a thing were to exist) is the fact that most people JUST DON'T GIVE A FUCK about song lyrics.  Now, to be sure, I sort of get it.  Some people's relationship with music is an arm's length affair, at best.  Some might have even had a few run-ins, called the cops and got a restraining order against poor ol' music.  Music has definitely stolen dearly from me on many occasions.  I can't count how many times I've put on "Airbag" only to lose the next 53 minutes of my life to "OK Computer," AGAIN...  But shit, son, it's Friday Night.  Let's forgive and forget and be friends with the words so thoughtfully and carefully put together, in which to create a memorable story, lived-in and full of Love and Hope and Faith and Fear.  And, if it's a Bradley Wik (or Bruce Springsteen) joint, it'll be about the four pillars of Rock N' Roll:  Cars, Girls, Drinking and Rock N' Roll...  (Some) Artists (not me) struggle to tell tales from the heart, relating to us simpletons (well, not me since I'm part of them, but you fuckers) the vastness of human-ness that is our experiences on this short-go-round-on-the-spinning-blue-orb.  The very stories that make us feel less alone and more a part of this fucked up world; as always, spinning in infinity, amen, hallelujah.  If Paul Simon and Chevy Chase can't bring a smile to your face, then fuck you.  You don't deserve this limited view of God's creations, however imperfect, yet beautiful.  And, you definitely don't deserve this fucking list of awesome shit, as curated by the man himself:  Me.  The best bringer of the fucking shit since Jay-Z and Kanye decided to explode our meager minds by teaming up to become the real Masters of the Universe.  Who dare fuck with them and their musical prowess??  Not I, said the lowly maestro who carves out a simple existence in the realm of the living, not attempting to understand the unknowable brilliance that reigns down upon him, should he live to be so lucky.  I pity those who perished before enjoying "Niggas in Paris," though I'm sure that's the muthafucking song Peter plays to determine your worthiness of entry into the kingdom of Heaven.  Hell plays a mix of the Eagles, Grouplove, the Head and the Heart, Rick Astley (although personally I'm against his inclusion on the "soundtrack from Hell," literally), James Taylor, Josh Groban, Jackson Browne, Fun., and finally, the devils themselves, Mumford and Sons.  Wow, if that list ain't enough to restore your faith then I don't know what is.  Paul Simon and Kanye OR James Taylor and Fun.?  Fuck, their stupid fucking name fucks up my fucking punctuation.  Fuck them. They're so fucking stupid.  Seriously, FUCK FUN.!  But most importantly of all, fuck THIS.  Their reign as Indie Rock elites lasted about as long as a bout of untreated AIDS.  So mostly, we're just happy it's dead and it can't infect anyone else and ruin their respective lives, and their loved ones, as well.  So, with a Fun./AIDS joke sufficiently in hand, let's move on to the goddamn list...

1.  Fifth Harmony - "Worth It"

Look, if you started the night off with two martinis, you'd want to fuckin' rock that shit right off that bat too; and this song definitely hooks that shit up.  Gotta love a song that is just as much at home in my headphones, the club, the stripclub, the car, and pretty much any-fucking-where music plays.  I would have still loved this song if it came out a hundred years ago and I had to play it on a fuckin' gramophone I had to wind myself.  Still would get the party jumpin'.  Might've pre-empted the Civil War, George W. style.

2.  Kenna - "Freetime"

As a white kid growing up in Wisconsin, most of my childhood was spent listening to classic rock music.  Synths and shit made no fucking sense to me.  This was a hella-fun song for an 18 year old to drink and do white people dances to.

3.  Nena - "99 Red Balloons (Luftballons)"

So, full disclosure, this song is the real reason for the rant about people not listening to lyrics.  I asked a small focus group about this song, and not one knew it wasn't in English.  Fuckin' seriously.  That's how much people give a fuck.  100% knew the song and 100% didn't know it was in German.  Which, of course, also proves that 100% of my focus group hasn't watched THIS.

4.  Clipse - "When the Last Time"

So, what??!!  This shit was quite ahead of it's time.  Pharrell knows how to make two things:  Music and Money, and has a fuckload of both.  "Happy" might have been better as a PARODY, but no one can touch some of his earlier shit.  Like this next one...

5.  N.E.R.D - "Truth or Dare"

I wasn't sure what the fuck was happening to my 16 year old mind and body but I liked it.  If I could travel back in time to hear this song for the first time, I would in a second.  It's the equivalent of hearing "Visions of Johanna" for the first time.  In other words, FUCKING LIFE-CHANGING.  Hip-hop, Rock N' Roll, Pop, all sorts of shit colliding in the most beautiful way.  I still don't understand this album and relish it among my most valuable things.

6.  Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away"

Talk about hipster nonsense.  This shit was real, real fucking good.  They tapped into something with this record and I still love it to this day.  Hipster shit doesn't suck because it's fucking hipster shit, it sucks because it sucks.  This lands on the opposite end of that spectrum, proving that what's good is good, despite its inclinations.

7.  Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - "A King at Night"

 I'm sensing an early 2000's theme to tonight.  Seriously, I don't plan these things.  You're literally drinking and listening to music with me, in real time.  The line "She's a fine lookin' lady and she likes to go down on me.  And I like to go down on her, too," is like, wait, what?  This is a sad song that is funny and silly and Will has the balls to be all those things at once.  Genius.

8.  Britney Spears - "Email My Heart"

Drinking often leads to bad decisions but this isn't one.  I've owned, loved and listened to "...Baby, One More Time" since 1999.  I probably should be ashamed of this fact, but I'm not.  In fact, I'm quite proud of my fandom of Britney.  Young love always leaves the strongest impressions...

9.  Firehouse - "Love of a Lifetime"

When I was younger man (read:  a teenager), my buddy's dad had a music room we were strictly, and explicitly, forbidden to enter.  It was probably mostly the result of my buddy who was the consummate klutz and broke nearly everything he touched.  Or, it might have been the roughly $10,000 he invested in his stereo equipment and speakers that he didn't want young kids to fuck up.  Nevertheless, we would sneak in there when he was gone and go through his thousands of CD's, fire up his vintage Klipsch's and revel in the majesty that is Winger and, of course, Firehouse.  It's a very strange thing when a random album grabs my attention so hard and for so long, but that's exactly what happened with the self-titled Firehouse album.  I still listen to it, front to back, on a regular basis, nearly 18 years later.  If you haven't heard it, this song is the place to start.

10.  Cinderella - "Coming Home"

Speaking of 80's hair metal...  This might be the cheesiest of them all.  Which, of course, I love as I am from Wisconsin, after all.

11.  Feist - "Brandy Alexander"

This song is the reason I own Creme de Cacao.  Also, the reason I get sad sometimes.  And the remedy for sadness at other times.  Songs that can do that to me are rare and I love them for it.  More than they'll ever love me back...

12.  Adam Sandler - "At a Medium Pace"

As I mentioned previously, drinking always unleashes the sentimentality bug.  Who hasn't felt like "Shave off my pubes and punch me in the face" at times??

13.  Beck - "Debra"

The "Just... What the fuck?!" song of the week.  Not sure what the record is for consecutive listens of this song is, but I'm sure I'm getting close...

14.  Elliott Smith - "Say Yes"

Can't end on 13, so here's the last one.  That sentimentality bug is goddamn persistent and finally landed a bite.  Fuck him or her.  Does the sentimentality bug have a gender?  Not sure, but not sure if it matters unless they're fucking on, as well as with, me.  Fuck those little fuckers.  Either/Or this is the end.  Remember, you're only as old as you feel when you're drinking...  'Til next time, assholes!

Who loves losers? Uh, who doesn't? Oh, a lot of people... Well, fuck me...

Everybody loves a loser…


You guys/gals ever notice how awesome Steve Winwood is?  If you don’t, you should.  Take some time and appreciate the man, his hair, his videos, his keyboard prowess, but mostly, his insanely catchy and wonderfully-constructed songs.  Use five minutes of your weekend to listen to THIS SHIT.  He even gets all grammatical on our asses by correctly saying “an Higher Love.”  I could (and frequently do) listen to this on repeat in the car when I’m feeling down.  Some days it’s “Valerie,” some days it’s “Back in the High Life” but Mr. Winwood is frequently in the mix of the pick-me-up-playlist.  As is THIS SONG.  Man, sorry what was I going to talk about, again?  Oh yeah, something I know quite a bit about:  Losing.  (aside:  God, I hope people didn’t think I was going to use Steve Winwood as my segue into losing and losers… No, I’m talking about me.  Sorry, that intro was confusing as shit but it’s Friday Night, which, if you’re keeping score at home, is for the Drinkers and I’m definitely partaking in that social more (mor-“A”, or mor-“eh” for our Canadian friends, which is also, incidentally, how they order another beer).  If I was a professional writer I wouldn’t have been so MISLEADING but I’m not, so fuck it, and on with the show!)

What I wanted to talk about today, which isn’t “today” in the same sense to me as it is to you, since who knows when you will be reading this (if anyone reads this shit at all to begin with), was the idea and societal perceptions of LOSING.  There’s a distinct fear of LOSING, a perceived hatred/shame toward LOSERS and this insane idea that LOSING is completely unacceptable and the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person or group of persons (or people?  Not sure, don’t care).  People have become deathly afraid to be WRONG, to LOSE or to FAIL.  I’ve watched people waste and/or ruin their lives because of an intense fear of LOSING or FAILURE.  I understand that a lot of these feelings are the products of other, deeper issues; that this is an effect, not the cause.  I get that.  But I don’t.  Or I guess I should say, I don’t understand that.  My brain, addled as it may be, or perhaps because of said addling, doesn’t work like that.  There are a lot of reasons that it doesn’t work like that, which, if you really want to know, feel free to ask me at a later date and I might tell you (booze always helps!).  But, it’s heartbreaking to see people’s lives controlled by the fear of LOSING or FAILURE.  Just for the record (and because nobody fucking asked) my biggest fears are: 

  1. Driving my car off a cliff and plummeting to an untimely and grotesque, fiery death, AND
  2. Missing out on Packers games (which is why I support, and fully endorse, Football on Your Phone.

Oh, and not doing something great, original, influential and memorable with my life.  But, I will accomplish this with the release of my second album (and the double-secret forthcoming Kindears album; wait, I just mentioned it, FUCK!), so I’m not too worried about this one anymore…

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years, is that the growing disdain people feel towards LOSING/FAILURE has slowly morphed into an entire era where people are simply avoiding putting themselves into a situation where LOSING/FAILURE is possible and/or likely.  I do not believe this is an entirely new concept but it has been subsequently reinforced by our modern culture, most specifically, with the dreaded “Hipsters” (Wooo, scary sound effect, but not too scary because “I’m too fuckin’ cool to care anyways” he said in his best hipster, aka Michael Cera, voice).  They’ve subsequently decided that none of them want to be losers, and henceforth, in order to erase losers, you must also erase winners and, thusly, everyone is equal and the same.  Yay!  What a fun world we live in, where no one is good and no one is bad, we’re all just stuck in the same boring ass, fucking Hipster Purgatory.

Now, I think the best example of the fear of LOSING, and the subsequent damage it can cause, is probably the Cleveland Browns.  They’ve fallen into the Fear of Losing Death Spiral, where:

Fear of Losing = Changes = Losing = More Changes = More Losing = Fear of Losing

And on and on, repeating like the two fucking chords of a half-hour Phish jam.  Teams are more likely to get stuck in this holding pattern than to get out.  The inverse is also true with teams like the Packers and the Patriots.  Just as in nature, it takes more time, and more importantly, energy to stop and start anew than it does to keep moving in the same direction.  That’s what makes what the Oakland (as of now) Raiders have done even more admirable.  They could have easily replaced Reggie McKenzie (Ted Thompson disciple), burned down the operation and started over a couple times, as the Browns have done, and continued to win 3-5 games each year for the forseeable future.  Instead, they kept him around for the third (and now fourth and fifth) season.  Browns fans, you might already be confused as I’m guessing you didn’t know GM’s and coach’s contracts could go beyond 2 years, but they can.  Was it rough on the Raiders, and moreso the fans, for a spell?  Yes, of course.  Did the Raiders fans cry out for change?  I’m certain many did.  Did they let the howl of the wolves deter them from their overall plan?  No.  In fact, fuck no.  Because teams can’t turn things around without a great effort.  But now the Raiders have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs this season and the Browns, well, they have RGIII…

I know many of you are thinking that, ultimately, these decisions come from the top down, from ownership, and you’d be right…  Sort of.  Of course, these egocentric (and generally not football-minded or football-smart) billionaires are generally impatient pricks.  If they were good at waiting around, being patient, always giving the benefit of the doubt, being kind and gentle, forgiving and caring, they probably wouldn’t be successful billionaires.  God knows, that hasn’t worked for me – though I’m not really THAT patient, kind or any of the other shit, anyways.  These men are accustomed to winning, and winning largely and frequently.  Again, very much so unlike me.  Losing, and responding to said losses, has made me who I am today.  My favorite story about LOSING is a tale about how awesome my brother is.  For years growing up, we played a lot of chess.  We played almost every single day.  Now, just so you know, I was 15 or 16 when we started and my brother was 7 or 8.  I refused to just let him win.  Was it mean to beat him every time?  Maybe, but I didn’t think he would learn the nuances of the game properly if I didn’t play him for real.  So, after losing hundreds of games, he finally won.  He beat me.  He was like 1-500 in his career but I’ll never forget it.  I couldn’t have been prouder of him.  It felt like a monumental moment.  I know he felt it too.  He went on to start a chess club in High School and I’m sure he was the best player on the team.  And, I’m positively certain, he would fucking destroy me if we played today.  Did he like losing all those games?  I can’t imagine he did, but now he’s a better player than I ever could be.  Losses can often be the building blocks to winning.  But these billionaire cocksuckers (yes, I’m jealous.  I want one of those blue stripy shirts with the white collar so everyone knows I’m both rich and a douchebag) are defined by winning; they don’t lose often and they don’t lose well.  But the other half of that is the fact that they intensely hate being perceived as LOSERS.  So, when the fans and the critics and the media start labeling THEIR team as LOSERS, being the vain and egocentric people they are, they DEMAND CHANGE.  Someone must be held accountable and FIRED.  LOSING is UNACCEPTABLE!  Except, obviously, if winning were easy, we’d all be doing it; just like we’d all be billionaires if we could.  This is the subtle fact that seems to elude them.  So, because in our modern culture, driven heavily by the Hipster movement, people can’t stand LOSING, the owners have become much more impatient and more frequently force change upon their LOSING team and, thusly, perpetuate the LOSING, which, of course, perpetuates the Fear of Losing Death Spiral.  So, yes, Cleveland, you can probably, and rightfully so, blame Hipsters and impatient Billionaires for your pain and suffering. 

P.S. – If you start a class-action lawsuit, I want in.  Anything to stop this Hipster takeover.  It’s worse than the fucking hippies in the sixties.  They don’t stand for anything, they just hate everything; especially winning and losing.  Perhaps, someday, we’ll all be boring and mediocre but until then, I’d rather the whole world wasn’t just like Cleveland…


P.P.S. – I originally had this epiphany (or rant, as my girlfriend likes to say) before the Cavaliers won the NBA Title.  I spoke lots of ill toward the Browns, because, well, they suck.  But, for the record, I wholly supported LeBron defeating the mighty Warriors, which I feel are the quintessential Hipster team.  LeBron is a once in a lifetime athlete, built to specs most of us can’t even read or even if we could, we wouldn’t fucking comprehend or know how to put them together.  He is most definitely from another planet.  That’s probably why people love Steph Curry so much.  They love Steph because he seems the most like us “normal” humans.  He’s not sculpted by His own hands and chosen by God to wreak havoc on the basketball world while we all bask in his undeniable glory.  But that’s the greatest fucking thing about sports.  I relish watching these genetic freaks and glorious humans achieve things beyond our wildest imagination (ex.  THIS MUTHAFUCKING SHIT!!!!!).  Step back 3’s be damned.  That shit is real.  Like, for fucking real.  Seriously.  Except that it isn’t real, except in LeBron James’ world.  And, Hipsters be damned, that’s the world I want to live in, eternally and with all the grace of God.  God bless you, LeBron James.  God bless you…

Is he having a laugh? He's having a laugh... aka Drinking Playlist

Who likes drinking alone?  Come share a drink and a laugh with me…

OK, I know what you’re thinking.  How do I know?  Because I’m just that fucking awesome.  You’re thinking:  “It’s Friday night and I’m at home, drinking alone, and though I cannot be partying with Bradley Wik, I want to listen to the same music as he so as to feel closer to his majestic ass.  I want to dance to the same rhythms and sing the same choruses, full tilt and off-key and fucking hammered.  I want to occupy the same mental, and metaphysical, plane as this exulted mutherfucker.  I want to dance as he dances, full of spirit and without inhibitions, mesmerized by the music, my hips in sync with the bass, my body moving so effortlessly with the melodies, wholly enveloped in the magical, mystical and pseudo-religious manner in which music can possess us.  I want to feel as Bradley feels and see what Bradley sees and hear what Bradley hears.  I wish that someday I might physically reconcile these sensations with the actuality of his presence, though undeserving I may be.  I would be made whole by such a divine meeting as this.  I would then be afforded the luxury to die, contented, unlike so many of my brethren (and sisthren?).  My time on earth will have come full circle and I should pass ever so fulfilled, ready for what may lie beyond our feeble comprehension.  And when Peter should ask “Are you ready?”  I will know I am complete and satiated with my earthly existence, with nothing left to look back on and wonder about.  I will know the apex of joy and relish in the knowledge that I reached the highest of highs.  There is nothing left on earth for me, should I be allowed to ingest, for one night, the same musical epiphanies, at the same moment in time, as Bradley Wik…”  Or, something like that, I’m sure…

So, without getting into my infamous verbosity on subjects which seem to interest no one but me, I present you (three scotches in, mind you; catch up fuckers) my playlist for tonight:

  1. Bruce Hornsby and the Range – Every Little Kiss
Gotta start out light and fun.  I could listen to this whole album every time I put it on, but, alas, I need to move on to:

  1. Cyndi Lauper – She Bop
Keep the rhythm moving forward.  The bass line alone is worth the price of admission

  1. Phil Collins – Sussudio
Don’t even get me started on how much I love this song…  Thanks for not getting me started.  Watch the damn music video which will help explain the inexplicable love I have for Phil and this tune

  1. Steve Winwood – Valerie
I hemmed and hawed between this and “Talking Back to the Night” landing on the better chorus

  1. Yaz – Only You
This song breaks my fucking heart every time.  And now, thanks to Ricky Gervais, I can’t help but think about “The Office” special every time I hear it.  Of course, I’m referring to the orginal and not that bastardization, “The (American) Office”

  1. Luke Bryan – Country Girl (Shake It For Me)
Now, four drinks in, I can’t resist the lunacy and sheer, manic fun of a Luke Bryan song; “Strip it Down” excluded

  1. Florida Georgia Line – This Is How We Roll (feat. Luke Bryan)
Seriously, what is better than FGL AND Luke Bryan…  I’m fucking serious, what is?

  1. Modest Mouse – Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset
As every drunk knows, eventually the sentimentality bug will get you.  This is what that little fucker wanted today

  1. Angel Haze – New York
Enough of that sentimental shit.  Fuck, this a sick beat with one of my favorite MC’s lighting it up, rough…

  1.  The B-52’s – Quiche Lorraine
I am getting pretty drunk, after all

  1.  Bob Marley – Redemption Song
Seriously, try and outrun the sentimentality bug.  It’s seemingly everywhere after five drinks.  This song always reminds me of High School and speech class and, of course, smoking lots of, err, “cigarettes”

  1.  Fiona Apple – Hot Knife
Just… What the fuck?!… Every damn time, unbelievable…

  1.  Kanye West and Jay-Z – Niggas in Paris
This would be the most fun anyone can have with music, except for:

  1.  Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen
      The undisputed champ, located at the intersection of drinking and music…

The Sidewalk Cafe, ellipsis. Wait, did I just say "ellipsis" or did I type it? It's tired in here...


What in the world were we doing at three AM… aka hanging with the waitresses, the walls and the weirdos (too many ellipsis’? ellipsises? ellipsis…)


Some people were looking to disappear, most were already gone.  Being new, it wasn’t really my place to make blanket assumptions, but I think it was fairly safe to say that one of the main draws of this place was the masquerade of it all.  For fucks sake, even I was wearing sunglasses at two-thirty in the morning, trying to not pass out/fall asleep, which would happen from time to time, hiding diligently, in plain sight, from everyone left, but mostly, from myself.  It was eerily simplistic to fall into the mystique and adapt to the scene being played out, week after week.  It was, in its own way, the sort of thing that all of these people (and there was definitely a very specific type of person who enjoyed this) were looking for, after years of being disenfranchised with the distinct lack of effort and non-existent aura most places strive to project.  This, it seemed, even in its own contrived, but still genuine on some level, way filled a desire to go back in time and experience something that we all knew (well, most of us knew) we were doomed to search for, unsatiated, on and on, with an unrelenting and crippling passion should we continue down our respective, and all-consuming, current paths.


For those seven to eight hours (no fucking joke), it was our world, much the same as an actor might get lost playing a character, amongst strangers and friends and people desperately seeking solace from the storm, whatever that may be to them, oblivious to reality.  I know, because I am one of them, that there is a multitude of people who simply cannot function in the type of world our begetters built.  Our brains are addled with dreams and deficiencies, and the way we are meant to exist day to day doesn’t quite compute.  It simply, no matter how you play with the numbers, won’t add up to a meaningful sum.  So, I get it.  I wanted it to exist, just as much as the rest of them.  But, still, I couldn’t fucking stand it.  Something about it just didn’t feel right.  Something was missing, but maybe that was part of the mystique.  Either way, I loved, and completely hated, the Sidewalk Café…

The Missteps of a Misspent Youth... aka trying to cover all the bad memories (yet another ellipsis)

“What the fuck are we supposed to do now that we’ve wasted our youth?”


None of us were so far gone that we didn’t know where this was headed.  For us, it was more of a fucked-up survival mode.  The co-dependence had started to take its toll and I could tell it was almost over.  Half of me wished it would continue, on and on, repeating and spinning in infinity until my earthly body conceded and released what was left of my heavenly spirit, if anything, to explore the consequences of my time here on our wonderful blue planet; I was addicted to the chaos and hoped to live in it as long as I could.  The other half of me was relieved that the end was in sight, the self-destruction nearly complete.  The tug-of-war that had been raging had finally begun to move toward the latter.  I was quite looking forward to the long-awaited deep breath I could finally take, my head being above water for the first time in years.  I couldn’t count the days spent longfully gazing at the shoreline but refusing to put oar to water in any attempt to return to the place I once knew so well; but it was nearly time.  To be sure, I was never worried, a feeling I’m certain was shared amongst us, about what would happen after we crash-landed back to reality.  I knew, since the beginning, again, something I feel was mutual between us all, except for Alyosha, that we, without the production of a formal “goodbye,” would never speak to each other again.  Instead, we would look back on this with a very unique and singular combination of fondness and disdain saved specifically for circumstances like this.  Many people have an “adult” enough disposition to look back on the missteps of a misspent youth fondly and with an eye towards the lessons learned.  But, because of the depth and severity of the fucked-up-ness of this all, we would be afforded no life lessons, no fond remembrances, nothing but the raw emotion we probably still haven’t grown up enough to digest fully.  There’s certainly a part of me that will never recover from, or condone, the way I behaved during those years; and I’ve the scars to remind me, should I ever hope, and be willing, to forget.  I have a distinct memory, one of those moments I’ll never forget, though I doubt I would recognize the girl I “loved” who made these comments, even if she was standing next to me at a Portishead reunion tour (her favorite band to fuck to), of asking her why she was covering her body with tattoos.  She simply and succinctly stated “It’s to cover all the bad memories.”  I hope, someday, to do the same.  Tragedy might be universal and unavoidable as a human, but great tragedy, the kind of which is said to inspire great art, is hard to understand; and even harder for those involved.

As Dostoevsky once wrote:  “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.  The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth…”

Editors note:  I am not, in any way, implying that I, or any of the other fictitious characters, are in any way “great men.”  However, if you should like to to think of me as a “really great man,” I would not try to dissuade you.

Goals, or some shit like that... I'm almost thirty and still chasing music...

Life Goals of a severely disturbed, and severely genius man...


One of the things that has always driven me, one of the things I hope and wish to accomplish before I sign off for the last time, is a deep desire to give, even if to only one other human being, the inspirational gift of music.  No single thing has altered the trajectory of my life in such a distinct and measurable way.  My whole life, as I have mentioned previously, took a significant, inconceivable and wonderfully magnificent turn when I truly embraced music.  And, another way of fleshing out the idea of “truly embraced” is to say “devoted my life,” to music.  Like most people when they are growing up and figuring out what life is and how they might fit into the world around them, I listened to music mostly passively.  That is to say, on the radio in the car or while we were shooting hoops.  Sports were my life, my focus and my thoroughly intense passion back then.  I was going to be the starting shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers or catch passes from Brett Favre at the tail end of his career.  I also loved basketball, but even at a very young age I was well aware of my limitations in regards to someday playing basketball professionally; which is to say, I knew I was short and white (or rather pink, being half red and half white).  At that time, those were the only things I knew:  football, baseball and basketball, with a little hockey and tennis thrown in for good measure.

As I progressed into the terrifically awkward and self-conscious teenage/middle school years, something started to change.  The world was slowly unveiling itself unto me, with all its splendor and glory suddenly coming sharply into focus.  Girls, music, literature, poetry, art, movies, travel and on and on were right there in front of me when, just the moment before, they were not.  It was all new and unconscionably exciting.  I was being pulled in a thousand directions and my brain could barely contain itself.  Things were coming at me from all angles and my poor Aspergian brain was desperately trying to collect them all, process and file these things neatly away.  Only it wasn’t neat, it was a fucking disaster.  I gobbled it all up as quickly as I could, for fear of missing out on something amazing or awe-inspiring.  My brain is such an archivist and a completist that whenever I found something new, I had to fully immerse myself into it and absorb everything I could as quickly as possible.  It couldn’t have been much more than a couple weeks after first reading “Slaughterhouse-Five” that I obtained copies, sometimes multiple, of every Kurt Vonnegut book.  I remember I got them very cheaply by ordering them off this weird internet thing called “Ebay” which used to offer tremendous deals on used items people no longer had a use for.  I can still feel the joy I had opening box after box which contained anywhere from one or two to ten or twelve new books for my consumption.  And I consumed them all, with vigor.  Again and again, I repeated this process.  I can’t tell you how many times I joined and quit BMG music so I could get 12 cd’s for the price of 1 plus shipping.  All of the sudden I needed every Metallica album, every Guns N’ Roses album, every Bon Jovi album, every “Weird Al” Yankovic cassette tape.

Of all the new mediums and modes of entertainment I had recently discovered, music always held the greatest draw.  There was something about it that just captured me in a more visceral way than movies or books or television.  It’s the sort of thing that happens when I see a Salvador Dali painting.  I am in awe and dumbstruck by the brilliance, but inspired at the same time.  Music had the ability to manipulate my emotions like nothing ever had.  Great movies like “Raging Bull” or “Back to the Future” had the same impact, but it was spread out over a couple hours.  I liked the immediacy of music.  Somehow, these artists could, in a matter of three minutes, change my entire day or week.  I couldn’t understand it.  So for years, music was no more comprehendible in its construction than “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoyevsky or “The Leaf of the Artichoke Is an Owl” by Gorky.  I had no idea how or why these things came to exist in the world.  I couldn’t fathom how one would go about the business of creating such wonderful, beautiful, magnificent, awe-inspiring things.  There was no way that I could ever be a part of that world in any other means than as a consumer.  That was my role and I relished it.  There was such a small group of truly brilliant people and I, in no way, was included in that ever-exclusive club.  I longed to be a genius but deep down knew I wasn’t.  I wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with these giants but couldn’t.  Alas, it was my Roxbury.

A great change was headed my way, but I was not to know it until many years later.  Early in my musical awakening, I was a huge fan of Classic Rock, Metal and Hair Metal.  Guns N’ Roses was, for a long time, the epitome of everything I loved about music.  They rocked harder, looked cooler, got more chicks and wrote better songs, I thought at the time, than anyone else on the planet.  Then, I found Led Zeppelin, and they rocked harder, looked cooler, got more chicks and wrote better songs than Guns N’ Roses!  Then, I found Bob Dylan, and he…wrote better lyrics…than anyone else on the planet.  OK, that didn’t really work in that regard, but Dylan played an enormous role in my musical development, which I’ll get to in just a bit.  I always thought to myself, “if I could ever play music, I would definitely want to be the lead singer of a Rock N’ Roll band.”  But the Led Zeppelins and the Guns N’ Roses-s and the Bon Jovis (my favorite Bon Jovi memory is from when I was 12 or 13.  My best friend in the whole world, at that time, James, decided, with my help of course, that it was a good idea to try and woo a girl he had a huge crush on by singing to her over the phone.  The song he so skillfully, and appropriately, we thought at least, chose was “Livin’ on a Prayer.”  Needless to say, she was mightily unimpressed by his ability to not really hit any of the right notes.  That final chorus was downright brutal with his untrained voice.  Naturally, of course, I and the other boy who bore witness to this, couldn’t control our laughter and endlessly mocked his enthusiasm, impressive though it may have been.  James certainly didn’t fail that day due to lack of confidence…) all had singers that I knew, even then, had way more talent than I could ever hope to attain.  Because, you see, some people are born with the great gift of talent, and the rest are born like me:   with no artistic ability whatsoever.  I’ll never forget arguing with my art teacher who once gave me an “F” on a set of sketches I submitted for an assignment.  She said they were so bad that she was sure that I had pencil-whipped them that morning before class.  I was so mad, and hurt, seeing as I had spent hours upon hours on them that week, diligently working every night, when I could’ve been shooting hoops with my friends. I desperately wanted to be good at art.  But, she was right, the sketches were terrible.  At least I got her to change the “F” to a “B” by staying after school for an hour to draw in front of her so she could see that no matter how hard I focused and tried, the results were equally shitty.

Now, I realize that having a distinct lack of talent is no longer much of a deterrent in music these days.  Just ask Grouplove, the owner of the worst piece of flaming garbage ever referred to as a “song” (check out their song “Shark Attack,” so you can revel in the comfort that comes with no longer wondering where the bottom is.  The seemingly racist music video is a terribleness all its own, which adds bonus shittiness-points to the song).  But, back then, sucking ass and making people want to murder their earballs was not appreciated the way it is today.  We’ve come a long way, baby!  But, this is the point in the story where Bob Dylan comes back.  He was the first person I heard, which I simultaneously loved and respected AND thought “God, I could sing as good as that guy.”  Listening to the, mostly, simplistic acoustic guitar lines and his vocals, registered in my brain as something that I, as terrifically untalented as I may have been, might actually be able to do!  It was the first of many revelations in regards to my musical future, which, at that point, was still not a thought that passed through my 14 or 15 year old brain.  Shortly thereafter, I saved up my lawn-mowing money and bought my first guitar out of the JCPenney’s catalog.  It was a black Harmony dreadnought acoustic guitar.  It was the most magnificent thing in the world.  Only I had no fucking clue what to do with it.  I couldn’t afford lessons, the internet back then was still just for weirdos who wanted to send “email” and look at porn; and no one I knew had any idea how to use one of these strange contraptions.  Well, first things fucking last.  I very quickly learned two things:

1)  I needed to also purchase a tuner in order to successfully use this thing
2) Sam Goody, in the Beaver Dam mall (R.I.P. thanks to Wal-Mart) sold books that would show me how to play anything I wanted.  The first book I bought, of course, was an anthology of Bob Dylan songs.

Dylan’s influence weighed heavily over my early musical career.  From the simple chord progressions and song structures to the poetic, prose-y type lyrics, I tried desperately to be as much like him as possible.  On my first album, “Burn What You Can, Bury the Rest…,” the song “She Will Never Return to Me” is the last vestige of that early songwriting style I adhered to.
By now, if any of you are still reading, I’m sure you’re wondering “What the fuck does any of this shit have to do with giving the inspirational gift of music to someone?  This is just a long, boring wank about your life.”  Well, you’re right.  But, also, I’m getting there assholes; just hang on a minute…

OK, so here’s the fucking tie-in.  About a year after all that shit, I began to wonder what I really wanted to do with this newfound “magic” music shit.  Dylan was nice, but save for songs such as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” he just didn’t “explode” out of the speakers the way I wanted to.  Elvis had it in spades with “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock,” but more or less cooled off beyond that.  Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” slipped just the tip in.  Hell, even Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” (see what I did there… huh, right?) had its moments.  Then, I got my grandma’s old, buffet-style (literally, on Christmas and Thanksgiving) record player.  It was a motherfucking bitch to get up the stairs to my bedroom, but in the end, I don’t know where I would be without it.  Probably would’ve went to college and actually did something with my life.  You know, made money and shit, like an adult.  Flipside, would’ve been boring as fuck.  I lived a lifetime by the time I was 25 and I loved every minute, even the terrible stuff.  Totally worth it, kind of…

Anyhow, let me set the scene:  young “Brad” is 16, sort of mussing around with this “guitar” trying to figure out what he wants to do with this new “music” thing he’s jumped balls-first into.  After lugging this fucking record player up to his room, he’s bound and determined to use it.  He flips slowly through his mother’s old records, which haven’t been touched in years, carefully examining each one, and pulling out his favorites, based on nothing but a gut reaction to the album covers and his limited knowledge of these artists.  After making a few selections, he returns to his room, delighted in his newfound modicum of music consumption.  It’s so pure and simple, he thinks.  They sent the Voyager Gold Record into space believing records to be so simple and wonderful that even aliens could figure out how to sink a needle into the groove and blast “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” into the outer realms of space; still somehow annoying their begetters, or whatever they hell they call their parents.  He threads up a records and listens, more intently than he has ever listened before.  The clicks, the pops, the hisses and warbles somehow making it all seem more human, more imperfect.  The drums sound more vibrant, the bass more distinct.  The spacing of all the instruments is more like one would imagine them coming from a stage; the guitars over there, the drums booming from the center, the bass anchoring it all down.  One record, then another, booms from the speakers, with “Brad” listening like he’s never heard music before.  Then, it goes silent, the end of record loop.  “What next?” he thinks and examines the stack he’s brought into his room.  And then he sees it.  It has never particularly struck him, though he’s heard a few of the songs.  “Seems more like adult rock than anything I might like.”  Nevertheless, the cover is quite striking.  Dark, contrasting, black and white images set against nothing but a blindingly white background.  It folds out to reveal the entire photo, which he’s never seen before:  a scraggly, skinny white kid with a beat-up Tele and a large, black man with a saxophone.  There’s a smile on their faces that exudes confidence and fun, but hints that there’s more struggle than one might initially ascertain.  The print is bold and clean.  Each song title sounds like it could be a movie from the 50’s or 60’s, starring Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly.  Well, it’s only eight songs, let’s see what it’s got…

He pulls it out, but, being still new to vinyl, lays it B-side up on the turntable.  He turns it on and carefully lowers the needle onto what turns out to be “Born to Run.”  What happens next is still hazy and dream-like.  No sooner had the warm sounds touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the sound of the drums and guitars, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?


OK, for the nerds out there (or the well-read, I’m not discriminating, I’m joining you), you’ll recognize that passage as Proust’s tea-soaked madeleine incident but the sentiment remains, assholes.  I told you I’d fucking bring this back around and here it is:  if, by some intrusion of fate, heavenly or otherwise, I could somehow impart, no, bestow that very experience unto some young child, henceforth, enlarging their world and their experience and their love of beauty, both of this world and within oneself, then I could die, knowing I fully served my purpose on this earth, as a mortal man in God’s image.  That might seem a bit self-aggrandizing but the sentiment holds true.  Music is truly a gift and should be regarded as such.  It has become the bastard child of art in recent times, degraded and reduced to background noise constructed in such a way as to make us “feel” a particular emotion on cue.  People will gladly pay thousands of dollars for a painting they will look at, perhaps, once a month.  But a song they listen to everyday, albeit probably just to fill space while driving/running/shopping/folding laundry/etc., is worth nary a penny.  People would just rather stream a song than buy it.  I could not possibly quantify the dollar amount of entertainment, enjoyment and personal fulfillment “Born to Run” has given me.  I owe it my life, there’s no doubt about that.  I have purchased it countless times, in one format or another, but no mere dollar amount could balance that debt.  “Born to Run” has shaped my life in such a way that it’s impossible to separate the two.  It’s my R2D2 in the escape pod moment, the seemingly galaxy-altering detail told in the seemingly smallest way possible. Proust understood the gravity of the moment where life suddenly became something new, whether he understood the implications or not.  I knew, but I knew not what was happening, only that it was happening.  It was terrifying and wonderful and my life would never be the same.  I hope I can ruin someone’s life in such a way one day.  Ruin it in the most beautiful way… 

Quantifying the Unquantifiable or some other shit like that. Yada, yada, yada, something about musical influences...

Quantifying the Unquantifiable… Or, in less twatty terms, ranking my early influences according to a different set of criteria.


I promise, that at some point, these posts will be less like playoff wins by Kansas City sports teams:  incredible to experience but so few and far between.  I intend to make this more like a Volvo, perhaps not quite as flashy each go round, but if you live long enough you can watch the odometer swing back to zeroes… Well, maybe that didn’t quite fit but you get the gist.  Then again, given that my Packers (yes, I am an owner so I can call them “my” Packers without having to cut this short to head to my head-shrinking appointment to talk about my stalking and possessive behavior) play the Washington Injuns (insert equally offensive, racist name here) tomorrow, I may be in an entirely different mindstate for the next month or so and, therefore, unable to write through the pain of admitting Kirk Cousins somehow defeated Aaron Rodgers in a playoff game.  It’s bad enough that, in some sick twist of fate, Kirk is actually favored to win.  I know a certain #12 does not like that, Mr. Cousins.  Mr. Rodgers is most certainly a lot more pissed off about this than I am, and I already ripped a sink out of the wall or started a one man riot and flipped a car (a smart car, but still, it counts) or whatever other Hollywood-type display you prefer for outwardly showing anger.  Enough rambling, onto the good stuff! (editors note:  The Packers won, of course, so hopefully everyone who was dumb enough to bet on Kirk Cousins, yes Kirk Cousins, in a playoff game against Aaron Rodgers is on permanent time-out)

Last evening, I was enjoying the warm glow that subtly and gently washes over one who has enjoyed a fine glass of bourbon or two, when, as is often the case, I started to think back on my younger days and how I came to be where/who/what I am today.  The obvious place to start, the place where one of those runway people who direct the planes with the big glowsticks would point to, is music.  I was sifting through my mind-grapes, and I began to look at the term “Musical Influences” in a different way.  Now, normally I would pass over the thought of the question and just give my normal Springsteen, Petty, William Joel, Dylan, etc. but on this night, and perhaps due to the warmness of the glow I was enjoying, I started digging much deeper than that.  Yes, those musical giants are, without a doubt, the ones who shaped much of the way that I  perceive, ingest and “outgest”(neither my brain, perhaps as a result of last nights “glow,”  nor Merriam-Webster can provide an antonym for “ingest” which seems really fucking weird to me.  As a result, I’m sticking with “outgest”) music.  But, when thinking in terms of a more measureable impact, I’m drawn to an entirely separate group of bands and albums that 16 and 17 year old Brad Wik(as he was known back then) used to forge the steel frame of what would eventually become to be known, and lovingly referred to, as My Life.

There were no specific criteria to compose the forthcoming list, but I was trying to apply an overarching cause and effect-type theory to achieve the, sort of scientific but not really scientific at all, results.  For example, 16 year old Brad Wik loved Stevie Ray Vaughan a lot, and I mean a lot, but the very first band I ever played in played no SRV, was not a blues band by any means and therefore, SRV had little to no tangible effect on my life thereafter.  However, our band did play “Corduroy” by Pearl Jam, thus making Pearl Jam much more “influential” in regards to this exercise.  SRV was one of my main motivations for picking up the guitar, but had I not participated in my high-school era band, I likely wouldn’t have pursued the insane notion of music as a career (which, in retrospect, was probably a terrible decision, but somehow even 28 year old Bradley still believes fully he can become successful as a musician; however flawed his thinking may be).  That being said, my high-school era band (“Third Production” I believe it was called) carries the most weight for this, and subsequently, I believe, for my life.  I guess that makes Jake my equivalent of the escape pod with R2D2 and C3PO inside that begets Star Wars.  I owe him a very large “thank you” which I will never fully be able to express with words alone…

Without further ado, here are the results (in no particular order, though I’ve numbered them for some ridiculous reason):

  1. Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
After all the years I spent listening to Springsteen, Dylan, Neil Young, William Joel and Meatloaf (why not?), I would have never fathomed that a record like this would change my life.  “Trailer Trash” straight up blew my mind.  I had never heard anything like that before and was wholly unprepared for what that song would do to me.  It became a staple in band rehearsals after libations had flowed…

  1. Radiohead – OK Computer
I can’t imagine anyone growing up in the same general era as me wouldn’t have this on a top five list.  Then again, there are a lot of things that I can’t imagine.  Like how many times Jake would play this on his acoustic guitar and we would drunkenly sing/yell-a-long to this, full of the spirit of youth; and Fleischmann’s…
  1. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Weld (Live)
At first glance, this might seem like the outlier on this list.  I know, it wasn’t supposed to inlcude the “pillar” type artists but I’ll never forget playing “Fuckin Up” at our first ever, and acoustic, by the way, show and badly “fuckin up” one of the changes, to which, Jake replied “Well, I guess that’s why they call it that.”
  1. Pearl Jam – (any of their Live Bootlegs but mostly the 11/6/2000 Seattle show and the 10/22/2000 Las Vegas show)
I can’t underestimate the importance of Pearl Jam to 16 and 17 year old Brad Wik.  I almost left off Neil Young because the two songs we covered were also songs Pearl Jam covered:  “Fuckin Up” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”  After finding out that Vedder, like most of us, was also a huge fan of The Who and Neil Young, my classic rock and alternative rock worlds aligned; and I was subsequently blinded by the eclipse, never to recover…
  1. R.E.M. – Automatic for the People
Not only does this album contain my favorite R.E.M. song, “Nightswimming,” but is, in my opinion, their strongest front to back offering.  Coming off of Out of Time, they somehow took their game to another level.  Also, amazingly, I’ve since had the pleasure of working with the one and only Mr. Ed Brooks (who mixed this incredible album).  He mastered both “Burn What You Can, Bury the Rest…” and my new album, yet to be released.  He is such an amazing person with some fantastic stories.  Sidenote:  I am, once again, listening to “Nightswimming” and crying gently.  There are only maybe a dozen songs that can do that to me:  “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star, “Bold as Love” by Jimi, “The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron & Wine, “Gold Miner” by the Fraidies, “At a Medium Pace” by Adam Sandler come to mind, though that last one is for different reasons…
  1. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
There are so many things in this record that shaped my vision of what could be possible in music.  This record was noisy and chaotic, sweet and simple, rockin’ and reckless, tight and dry(taking this one off, someone else make an inappropriate joke for once); it was so many different things that I never imagined could coexist.  The vision Jake and I worked towards was heavily filtered through this album.
  1. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Every motherfucking song from “Hello” to “Champagne Supernova” is certifiably a goddamn hit.  Everything about this album is so fucking cool.  The Gallagher’s had swagger for days, and a uni-brow bigger than mine, no easy feat.  Of course, we also covered “Wonderwall” coming up (who hasn’t?  The easiest way to get chicks to notice our band was to play a song they actually liked and knew.  Unsurprisingly, no chick ever complimented me for knowing all the words to “Visions of Johanna”or “Desolation Row”) and every band I’ve played in since has covered at least one song by Oasis, and it’s usually from this album.


So, there you go, fuckers…

3rd Rock from the Sun and new music Recommendations...

Best 3rd Rock from the Sun Titles(aka Why 3rd Rock from the Sun wins the “Greatest Titles Ever” Belt) in chronological order, of course, assholes…


-       Dick, Smoker
-       The Art of Dick
-       The Dicks, They Are a Changing
-       I Enjoy Being a Dick
-       Assault with a Deadly Dick
-       World’s Greatest Dick
-       Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick
-       I Brake for Dick
-       Will Work for Dick
-       Eleven Angry Men and One Dick
-       Auto EuroDicka
-       The House that Dick Built
-       Dick ‘the Mouth’ Solomon
-       Near Dick Experience
-       Youth is Wasted on the Dick
-       Shall We Dick?
-       There’s No Business like Dick Business

     I’m not sure if you fuckers watched and loved this show the way I did.  It was an extremely integral part of my middle school experience; the same way Nirvana, Bright Eyes, Football, Acne, Braces and Masturbating was.  Speaking of Bright Eyes, he is easily the most awkward concert I have ever been to.  It’s weird that at 18 years old, you can feel like a fucking old man, weirdo, pedo-type, but that’s exactly how my buddy and I felt.  Then again, it’s hard not to sitting amongst 5,000 depressed 15 and 16 year old girls for two hours.. And, of course, we had to be next to the fucking idiot who claimed he went to High School with Conor Oberst(we were in Wisconsin, so it’s highly unlikely despite the massive amount of alcohol and smoke this man took in order to arrive at this conclusion.  Then again, he had some pretty damn good weed  for Wisconsin and after sharing he sort of convinced me.  Then again, in that state, those depressed teenage girls could’ve convinced me to read more fucking Neil Gaiman) and couldn’t stop yelling out, no fucking bullshit, “Play some FUCKING Bright Eyes.”  Regardless,   Conor fucking rocked the Pabst Theater.  It was the country half(“I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning”) of his two album tour.  No matter how old I get, I can’t completely make fun of the pretentious as fuck fake interview from “An Attempt to Tip the Scales” on “Fevers & Mirrors.”  I gotta give him credit, he had balls at least.  I wonder what he thinks of that nowadays.  I know what I would think…  One of my favorite Conor songs will always be “Waste of Paint.” It was one of the first songs I heard where I thought “Hell, maybe I could do that…”  Obviously, part of my love for that song is my everlasting, and ridiculously nostalgic, youth and my insanity which has revealed itself in my need to create music; for better or worse.  Conor’s strongest impression was to inspire me to endlessly write songs about trying to get laid in high school, completely failing nearly every time, of course, while making up(or “freestyling” as I liked to say) half the words; which I don’t think he did but it sure sounded like it.  Songs at that time were, to me, fluid and changed everytime I sang them.  When you are 18 years old the subject matter changes frequently, as every day is a new adventure and everything moves so quickly…  Wait, that’s fucking stupid and just romantic reminiscing…  That’s right, I was talking about my love for Dick…

     Seriously, look at that fucking list.  What TV show do you know that could even think of putting their titles up against those?  I’m not sure how this flew but I guess we were less sensitive back in the nineties..  Also, how good looking is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, seriously?  Even as a fellow teen, I had a huge man crush on him.  That hair…

     Lest you aren’t a huge folk music fan like moi, then you probably don’t know the full awesomeness of THIS…  Cat Power was one of the first shows I ever saw in Seattle and she most definitely didn’t disappoint.  I almost got stabbed by a homeless man on the way home but, since I didn’t, it was certainly worth it…

     I’ve done lots of shit-talking about various bands and music in the past so I’d like to offer a couple listens that may or may not blow your mind.  As a sidenote, I don’t know if you all have heard of this Spotify deal but it’s pretty fucking sweet.  I can listen to boatloads of music without having to tote around crates of CD’s all the time.  Maybe I’m too old for this interwebs thing…  Anyhow, take a listen to the new Wolf Alice album “My Love is Cool.”  I recently saw them in Seattle at the Crocodile and they killed it, rough.  Like fucking seriously rough.  I haven’t seen a show that good in a long, long while.  The single is “Bros” which is good but I can’t stop listening to “Your Loves Whore” and “Lisbon.”  They have sort of a Joy Formidable feel but poppier and a bit grungier, if that makes any sense.  Huge, balls to the wall rock sound and great hooks and grooves with just the right amount of chaos.

     Also, on the recommendation of the podcast I have binge listened to over the past month, Man vs. Radio(which you should totally check out.  Tons of great music and Christian has some incredible stories you should hear), I recently have gotten into the Blue Nile’s “A Walk Across the Rooftops” which is amazing, beautiful, poignant, soulful, sad, hopeful and brilliant beyond brilliant.  I don’t have proper words to describe this album so just listen to “Heatwave” and “Stay” and stop reading this shit…


     But, if you haven’t, take a listen to this shit  Rocks my world everytime.  I listened to this on repeat for three hours on the drive from Seattle back to Portland and got chills everytime.  It’s that good. Anyhow, I know it’s been way too long but I’m back bitches and expect more updates soon…

Extremely Biased Album Reviews with Bradley Wik - "Try Again" by the Fraidies

Extremely Biased Album Reviews with Bradley Wik


            Welcome to a brand new segment I’ve just invented, since I’ve the right to do so, seeing as, well, it’s my own fucking blog, called “Extremely Biased Album Reviews.”  The purpose of this is to both share some love and raise awareness for some of my favorite new listens.  It just so happens that two of my favorite records right now are albums released by friends of mine.  Does that affect my objectivity towards them?  Probably, but who gives a shit.  They are wonderful records that deserve as much praise heaped upon them as possible.  So, I’ll start the heaping…

            First up is The Fraidies debut album “Try Again.”  Now, for those of you who don’t already know, this is the band led by none other than Mr. Jon Fickes.  Yes, the one and only.  I don’t know how to put this, but he’s kind of a big deal...  Jon has been teasing us with self-released demos and home recordings put out at various places on the interwebs for a couple of years now.   The songs were infectious and sing-along ready; and we were getting pretty wet in the pants waiting for a finished product.  I remember vividly the first show I ever played with the Fraidies.  I was already so obsessed with the unreleased tunes that I sang along to every fucking song.  No joke.  I hadn’t been such a fanboy since the first, oh, I don’t know, six god-damned times I saw the Hold Steady.  So, needless to say, when I heard Jon had booked time in the studio and was FINALLY fucking doing this thing, I was so pumped.  I had unrealistic expectations for the record.  In my head, it was already multi-platinum-co-headlining-with-Katy-Perry-to-sold-out-arenas big.  I mean, Taylor Swift would suck Jon’s dick to do a twenty-minute opening slot on the “Try Again” album release tour.  Which, Jon would consider. And, the next time a hurricane hit mainland America and there was a huge, star-studded benefit for the victims, Jon would do an acoustic version of “Life Under Water” before Kanye West came out and brought the house down with a spirited live version of “Drunk and Hot Girls”(to take us all back to the better times of, uh, 2007) with Jon Fickes staying on-stage to fill in for Mos Def, I mean, Yasiin Bey, who wasn’t allowed back into the country for the benefit show.  Wait, wasn’t there just a reunion of Black Star for Dave Chappelle’s residency at Radio City Music Hall?  Is there anything Dave can’t do?  Fuck, I mean, how did he get Mos, I mean Yasiin, back into the country?  I thought he was blacklisted, no pun intended…  Whatever, I’m losing my train of thought…  Oh, yeah, that’s right.  So, I had very high expectations for “Try Again.”  Yet, somehow, Jon and the boys surpassed them all…

              To put it simply, and succinctly, The Fraidies have made the perfect sleeper album of the summer.  This is the “Oh, Inverted World” for 2014.  It’s the kind of album you remember and associate with a time and place; like “Gold” or “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” WAS the turn the of the century.  Or “Transatlanticism” or “Ghosts of the Great Highway” or “Funeral” WAS 2004.  Like “Boys and Girls in America” WAS 2006, “Try Again” is the milepost for your life in 2014.  It’s the places you lived and the people you knew.  It’s who you were, and always will be, when this record comes on.  It’s a remembrance of youth or an acknowledgement of age.  It’s beautiful and it’s sad and it’s fun, and it will become a part of your life’s story.  Entire chapters of people’s lives will be scored by this album.  I know mine already is.  But most of all, “Try Again” is a wonderful pop record that is destined to garner the praise, and fans, that it deserves.  There aren’t enough good, honest radio stations to give “Never Love Again (It’s Doubtful)” the spins it’s rightfully due as one of the best, most innovative pop songs of the past, fuck, who knows, ten years.  I haven’t been so helplessly taken by a pop song since the first time I heard “Sussudio.”  “Never Love Again (It’s Doubtful)” has elements of Rock N’ Roll, Whammy-ridden guitar fills, synthy, dance-inspired breakdowns and is summed up brilliantly by a pure pop chorus.  In short, it’s fucking awesome.  It’s definitely the highlight of the record, but is by no means the only one.  “The Clang of the City” is going to be a showstopper during live performances.  “You’ve Got Nothing but You’ve Got Love” is the album cut that is destined to be one of everybody’s favorite Fraidies tunes.  It’s such a sweet, sad, honest song about a failing relationship that it’ll melt your heart every time, even as you can’t help but sing along and hope for love to win out, knowing full well that it won’t.  Every musician/artist/dreamer can feel the full weight of every word when Jon sings “There’s nothing left inside of me.  I’ve got nothing to give you. Why do you insist on loving me?  I can only destroy you.”  It’s heart-wrenching to hear the sadness and resignation in those lines.  Over the course of the record, Jon frequently lays it all out very simply for us; neither trying to hide his sentiments nor be too grand with his lyrical brushstrokes.  This is never more poignantly exemplified than with the song “Gold Miner.”  There are many experiences in life that are too beautiful and too personal to ever try to put into words.  Things that our human language isn’t complex or complete enough to sum up for another’s comprehension.  Such is the case with “Gold Miner.”  I could waste ten thousand words trying to explain what it means to me.  Why each verse is perfect, nothing wasted, nothing wanted.  But I would fail.  There are some moments in life that can only be appreciated.  There is nothing I could say that would express the emotion I felt upon hearing this song for the first time, other than, most people do the best they can and hope there is some sort of validation at some point.  I got mine…


            For sure, none of this would land as hard if the band didn’t hold up it’s end musically.  Andrew Angell does his part on the drums, guiding the band through the many complex rhythms and changes throughout the tunes.  Jack Shriner(bass) is tasteful and driving while David Solomon(keys) helps build the sonic backdrops and flourishes when necessary.  Jon Fickes, the guitar wizard he is, handles both the rhythm and the lead guitars, which dance in and out of melodies and counter melodies with the vocals.  Jon constantly challenges the boys with his tunes and they handle them beautifully.  The recordings themselves leave room for the performances to breathe and they shine through.   Of course, Jon’s songs always stay at the forefront, and rightfully so.  He is a master of melody and his songwriting talent is prevalent on every tune on “Try Again.”  The Fraidies are already a staple of my summer party playlist, and hopefully, this isn’t the last we hear of Mr. Fickes and company.

This Old House... Goddamn, I'm A Genius...

This Old House and various other amusing things…


            So, I was initially going to try and make a slightly less angry and much more thoughtful blog, but that got sidetracked right off the bat.  This morning, right as I was ready to leave for band rehearsal, I had to poop.  Normally, I would squeeze it in and just head out but it felt like one of those “eight thirty in the morning,” “quick and light” shits.  It was not.  I hate being blindsided by my own bodily functions.  It threw my whole morning off kilter.  Now, I was fifteen minutes behind schedule, had to carry my guitar eight blocks in the rain to my car, which some drunken asshole, presumably a fucking Timbers fan, had decided to kick multiple times and put several dents in my drivers side door for which I now have to call the fucking cops about(there was a police officers business card on my window, I don’t know); and, worst of all, I still had not had a cup of coffee.  I currently have a pretty nice headache from my lack of caffeine intake this morning but that’s my problem I guess.  And so is the pooping and the door dents.  Well, not really the dents unless you count living in sort of shitty neighborhood my fault.  But anyway, there goes the less angry and more thoughtful.  I now want to punch a person that I have never met, in the back of the head, Homer-style, for kicking my fucking car and have already mentioned bowel movements.  Hot dog, we’re off and running…  But, on a more positive note, I just found out that the entire series of “Duckman”is on YouTube.  So, peaks and valleys.  Some people go out and have fun with other human beings on a Saturday night.  Others have no money, hate everybody anyways,  sit at home and watch “Duckman.”  I, sadly, and to my girlfriends dismay, fall into the latter category…

            What I wanted to talk about, before the unexpectedly large shit and the door dents, was memories.  Specifically, their subjective nature and the romance that we, as imperfect humans, project onto them.  So, where might a thought like that come from?  Well, if you’ll be patient, I’ll tell you.  Last night, I was getting drunk and playing guitar(one of my favorite hobbies) and started playing some songs I haven’t played in a while.  Songs that I had written that never really made the cut or songs that the band hasn’t played in a while; which is most of them.  BWC(Bradley Wik and the Charlatans, for the uninformed) has been busy getting ready to record our second full-length album, tweaking and obsessing over the same twelve or so songs for the past two or three months.  It’s fun…  If you could see my face, it would reveal the necessary Seinfeld-like look intended and widely used for indicating sarcasm.  But, in all seriousness, it isn’t all terrible.  It is kind of fun to see how far you can push a song before it sounds stupid and you throw out all the changes that you just spent six hours pursuing and implementing.  Its all part of the process for people like us.  That is to say, people too neurotic and anal to just leave it alone without first proving that any other way is just terrible(see:  Billy Joel’s alternate, “Reggae” version of “Only the Good Die Young.”  Just thinking about it gives me the shivers).  Basically, that’s been our band rehearsals for a while now.  And, because of that, we haven’t played hardly any of the old songs in a long time.  So, I dusted some of them off last night and played “This Old House” for the first time in months.  I forgot how good of a song it was.  Man, I’m so fucking talented.  So wise and full of insight as well.  I was so taken aback with myself that when I finished, I paused for a moment of reflection.  You want to know the first thought that popped into my head?  Probably not, but I’ll tell you.  I immediately thought of that episode of Wings, also entitled “This Old House,” where Brian and Joe find out that the house they grew up in is about to be demolished.   They go through the myriad of emotions that a lot of us do when confronting a large block of memories all at once.  It’s a really good episode.  Brian and Joe’s first reaction is to be angry that the house is being torn down, regardless of the fact that the soil around it is eroding and soon the house will plunge into the ocean.  Their next thoughts are of all the good times and happy memories they shared there.  They, along with Helen, their childhood friend, decide to take a cooler of beer and head to the house to reminisce and pay their final respects.  After a few beers and some good memories, the boys head upstairs to their childhood room.  Within a few minutes of talking about how much they love and miss the old place, they quickly realize that they also had a lot of terrible memories at the house as well.  From trying to sleep through parental arguments to the eventual divorce of their mom and dad and so on and so forth, they slowly see that they also hate this place.  They then decide to start the demolition of the old house on their own.  The cathartic smashing of the house allows them to keep only the memories they want to and let the rest fall into the sea with the decrepit, abandoned house.  But the joke is on the Hacketts because Fay, unbeknownst to Brian and Joe, and clearly for our amusement as the watcher, has convinced the historical society that the house be preserved as a landmark, forcing them to deal with their anger towards it and all the bad memories it encompasses.  That’s a lot of bang for your buck in a scant twenty or so minutes of network television. 

On a personal note, it was not even one year ago, so it’s still quite fresh in my mind, that the bank repossessed the house that I grew up in from my mom.  I have to say, I went through the same series of emotions as the Hacketts.  The anger, the fond reminiscing and eventually wanting to destroy the house with my  own hands.  Unfortunately, I did not get the pleasure of smashing the house to bits nor do I have the satisfaction of knowing that it will soon fall into the sea.   The hardest part of going back to the house was knowing that it would be the last time that I would.  It’s nice to be able to keep those chapters of your life open because sometimes you need the comfort of nostalgia and the remembrance of simpler times.  I lost that.  And I miss it.  I really do.  And, since the house still stands, whenever I go back to visit Wisconsin I see it; and I still remember all the bad stuff.  When I was going through all the old shit that I had left there, I found a bunch of old notebooks wherein I had written terrible song after terrible song, from when I was still trying to figure out how to write a song that wasn’t a total piece of shit.  Needless to say, almost every song was a complete failure on that end.  There are only a few songs that I wrote in High School that aren’t completely unlistenable.  But, as I flipped through the pages, I noticed how much sixteen to eighteen year old Bradley hated living in the tiny, redneck town he grew up in.  The anger, the depression and so on was hard to read.  I wanted it all to disappear.  I wanted to remember it differently.  I might’ve thrown out all those old notebooks, but the house is still there as a reminder of it all.  Slowly, as an adult, I have begun to accept and appreciate the childhood that I had.  After all, a lot of kids aren’t allowed to spend entire days going wherever they want, doing whatever they want with no adult supervision.  We left the house in the morning and didn’t come home until supper and then went back out til the streetlights came on.  Not too many of the people I know now were afforded the same luxury as kids.  The places they grew up didn’t allow for that.  So I got that going for me, which is nice.  Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to reconcile the bad with the good and realize I quite enjoyed my childhood.  Or, at the very least, call it a wash.  I don’t know, however, if I’ll ever be okay with my teenage years.  But, then again, who is…  Also, since we’re on the topic of going back to the shitty towns we grew up in, I recently re-watched “Young Adult” and somehow, as if by magic, I have some pertinent thoughts on that as well.  God, it’s weird how this shit comes together…  I must be a fucking genius or something…  On a side note, I’ve realized there are actually three types of people in the world:  those who go out and have fun with other human beings on a Saturday night, those who have no money, hate everybody anyways,  sit at home and watch “Duckman,” AND those who have no money, hate everybody anyways, sit at home and learn how to play “All for Leyna” between episodes of “Duckman.”  I, sadly, and to my girlfriends dismay, fall into the latter of the latter categories…  The last one…  If you couldn’t tell, I’m going through a bit of a Billy Joel phase…  Anyways, Young Adult…

This is a very strange subject for me.  There are a lot of conflicting emotions and thought processes happening all at once.  Most of the time, I’m not quite sure how to feel about it.  There’s a lot going on.  But let’s see if we can sort it out.  First off, there’s my fairly intense hatred of Diablo Cody.  I watched Juno for the sole purpose of being able to make fun of it and the people who like it.  People always like to throw it back in your face if you haven’t actually seen the movie.  I always hear “How can you hate it if you haven’t even seen it?”  Which, is dumb.  I know what I like and what I hate by now.  I’ve refined my Tick-like abilities to sense this shit as it happens.  Also, I wonder why whenever I think of an annoying person they always have a Long Island accent.  “When is Jerry going to see the baby…”  Anyways, with Juno sucking so much, I was unsure of how to proceed with Young Adult.  I liked the blurb on Netflix.  It sounded like a movie I would probably watch.  It was depressing enough.  It was set in the Midwest.  The character was going back to the shit town she grew up in.  And, best of all, it had Charlize Theron in it.  BUT, it was written by Diablo Cody.  So, that was all kind of a wash.  Then, I saw Patton Oswalt was in it and that intrigued me.  Now, I’ve never watched him do his standup, but I have seen him in a number of things that I like and he was always funny.  I’m talking about Reno 911 as the weird, nerdy guy, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee as the weird, nerdy guy, King of Queens as the weird, nerdy guy…  So, what the hell.  At the very least, if it sucks, and I mean sucks my dead grandfather’s hairy, German nutsack, it’ll at least add to my arsenal of Diablo Cody-themed hatred…


But, it really wasn’t that bad.  In fact, I might even venture to say it’s pretty good.  Not great, mind you; let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  It made fun of the fake superiority people gain when they leave a small town for a big city.  It poked fun at the notion that those people still living there would have to be miserable while everyone who got out is so much happier; which is also not true.  Most people who leave places for other places seeking happiness are doomed to fail.  Happiness is not a place, nor can it be found in one.  Now, to be sure, this rule does not apply to people who are being discriminated against, in shitty towns across this great country.  Like where I’m from, that would be a gay person or anyone whose skin is not white.  In that case, leaving is definitely the right move and they will certainly be happier almost anywhere else.  But the happiness that most people crave, when they leave a place in search of it, is usually a happiness that they have denied themselves.  I’ve found this out the hard way.  I’ve put my theoretical “happiness” in a “lock box” where the only way in is the loosely-defined “musical success.”  It’s tortured me for years.  I’m slowly, again, as I get older, beginning to reconcile this with my actual life and what’s happening to me.  Believe it or not, I’ve actually become less bitter and angry over the years.  My girlfriend has a lot to do with that.  I’ve found a lot of lost happiness in her and the way she makes me feel about me.  It’s nice.  Hopefully, someday, that will be all happiness that I need…  Whew, and all this from a Diablo Cody-penned flick.  Who would have thought?  But the major takeaway from the film was that hardly any truly shitty people get what’s coming to them.  Even after Charlize Theron’s character was terrible to everyone that she came in contact with and was beaten down and hating herself, as she should, Charlize’s character still gets an esteem boost from Patton’s character’s sister.  Patton’s character’s sister tells Charlize’s character that she is a good person and that they sort of idolize her back in the shit town; and Charlize’s character gets to not hate herself as much as she should.  Which is, oftentimes, the way things work out in real life.  It’s bullshit and I should really pay more attention to character names in movies…  Also, I really want to punch the asshole who kicked my car in the back of the head.  I’m kind of obsessed with that.  Oh, right, I’m less angry and shit.  This is my “less angry” and “more thoughtful” blog. 

Someone Help! I've Been Trapped in my Apartment for Three Days!

Random Snowed In Thoughts…

            I would like to start by qualifying that, yes, after three days of snow in the fair city of Portland, Oregon, I am still snowed in.  In fact, my phone yelled at me violently, well, not yelled, it was really more of a fire alarm at short range, that the City of Portland has issued a statement urging people to stay inside and not travel due to poor road conditions.  Now, to the layman, the everyday tax-paying citizen, if you will, the proper course of action would be to, oh, I don’t know, maybe take some action.  Maybe hire some plows and salt trucks, something.  Their advice was to just sit tight, as it was supposed to warm up over the next couple of day and the rain should, hopefully, wash away all the snow…  What a plan.  They must be fucking geniuses.  Hopefully they all get re-elected, or better yet, they leave their houses for some coffee or orange juice or a prostitute, whatever, and they slip on the ice and the shitty, packed-in snow on their roadways and crack their heads, and since everyone was advised to stay in they bleed to death, concussed and unable to call for help, lying in the road, like the fucking morons they truly are…  Or at the very least, they could stub their toes.  And I mean really stub it bad, like bend the nail back and chip a little off because that’s what happened to me walking around my tiny apartment trying not to get all “The Shining” all over everyone.  Anyways,  I’m going to devour five or six cups of coffee while I type, got to get this wonderful day going.  So, let’s move on to the randomness…

            Cup of Coffee #1:  Bruno Mars…


            Now, I haven’t actually written anything about the Super Bowl yet, or hardly even spoken of it, since that tragedy of a football game on February 2nd, 2014, except to congratulate my friends who happen to be Seahawks fans.  They should enjoy it though, as it’s only a matter of years before Pete Caroll fucks the team over, they get busted for cheating and their Lombardi trophy gets revoked(see:  USC)…  Just kidding, the NFL doesn’t revoke trophies like the NCAA.  Theres no real punishment for cheating(see:  Belichick)…  Oh yeah, Bruno Mars.  So, the one thing I did want to talk about, in regard to that dreadful waste of advertising money(Tim Tebow’s “no contract” ads were my favorite, if you were wondering, which I know you probably weren’t), was the Bruno Mars halftime show.  To be fair, most of the people I ask about this actually LIKED his halftime performance and found it quite entertaining.  And, since a lot of people I knew grew up in the nineties, the RHCP thing was a nice touch.  Like most things, I fall on the other side of the fence, I fucking hated it.  FUCKING HATED IT.  Maybe it’s the fact that he constantly gets compared, by critics and therefore unthinking morons who have been diligently trained, by facebook and twitter and 24-hour news, to regurgitate talking points as if they were their own, to Michael Jackson and James Brown.  Not only are those two giants of the music and entertainment industry that we’ll never see the likes of again, they are also two of my favorite performers of all-time.  No one will ever compare to Michael Jackson.  I’m pretty sure that’s what Sinead O’Connor was singing about.  So, I take offense to that.  Also, it set a bar and a standard to which Bruno couldn’t possibly reach even if he(or she, I’m still not sure exactly what this untalented lump of shit is.  The closest thing I can approximate is that if James Brown, hence Bruno's blackness, had a retarded, illegitimate child, who claimed all of his recessive genes, none of the talent or creativity or awesomeness,  and that child knocked up Katy Perry, hence the shitty pop “music,”the resulting baby would be called Bruno Mars) was talented at all.  I think my favorite thing that was written about this, was when Steven Hyden of Grantland wrote:  “A band comes onstage wearing suits that match what Mars is wearing. You typically only get that sort of showmanship on cruise ships.”  His overall review was pretty positive, but still, I crack up every time I read that.  To be honest, I wasn’t really listening to the songs.  After about five seconds of each new song, I wanted to murder someone.  But seeing as I was in a room full of people I had just met, I didn’t want to make a bad impression.  Afterwards, I almost felt bad for Bruno.  It’s bad enough to be a douche on national television, but to be shown up by a fifty year-old RHCP, featuring Will Ferrell on the drums and a guitar player who was either experiencing a bad acid trip or just ate Jack in the Box and was trying desperately not to shit himself in front of America,  must not feel so good.  And he most certainly was shown up.  It’s clear RHCP were comfortable and ready to rock, no matter how big the stage, as they’ve been doing it for years.  Bruno seemed like he was trying to prove he wasn’t the product of James Brown’s retarded, illegitimate, recessive-gened child and Katy Perry…

            Cup of Coffee #3:  Rick Astley…


            Last night, while being cooped up again in my shitty little apartment, I was trying to pin down exactly what it was about Rick, and more specifically, the “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video, that was so amusing to me.  Maybe its because he looks like a sixteen year old ginger who stole his fathers yachting clothes. Maybe its because he sings lines like:  “You know the rules and so do I…” or “You wouldn’t get this from any other guy…” or “I just want to tell you how I’m feeling…”  Maybe its because the video features a random black dude who likes to do flips while he’s cleaning and getting ready for work.  Maybe its because Rick could be, quite possibly, the worst dancer ever.  What the fuck is that side to side hand shimmy thing that he does the whole song?  It’s the single worst white guy dance move I’ve ever seen and its so hard to watch.  I never thought I would see someone who made Phil Collins seem black by comparison.  Rick could be be the whitest guy ever.  Who knows.  But, for any guy who feels like he’s unlucky with women, Astley and the video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” is proof positive that any guy can get laid…

            Cup of Coffee #4:  Random Lists…


            Anyone who knows me well knows that I love making lists.  Top five albums or songs or movies or whatever.  I know, very High Fidelity, but its fun.  By the way, if you have never read the book, you need to stop whatever you’re doing, unless you’re listening to Rick Astley and boning, then by all means keep it up, go find it(hint:  there’s these things that the kids hardly ever use anymore, ever since Al Gore invented the internet, called libraries where they keep tons of books) and read it immediately.  Nonetheless, here’s five random top five lists for you…

            Top five human sensations or feelings.  Now, I’ve never been married, had a child or won the lottery, but I assume those would be my top three if they should ever occur.  Since, I’m not that lucky insofar, here’s what I do know:

  1. Predictably, having an orgasm.
  2. The first time I put on socks after having cut my toenails.  A close second...
  3. The feeling I get just after having taken a large poop that’s been brewing for a while.
  4. Taking a shower when I’m really gross or dirty or sweaty or whatever.  Very often following #1 or #3.  Hopefully “or” will never turn into “and.”  I have never had, and cross my fingers, never will have, a sex-pooping problem…
  5. Peeing after holding it for as long as humanly possible.

I’m kind of surprised at how low “peeing after holding it” came in, but there you go.
Honorable Mention:  Performing onstage and eating, which leads me to...

Top five favorite sandwiches:

  1. Meatloaf, which just might be my favorite food in general
  2. Egg salad, I wish I had the patience to make egg salad but I don’t
  3. Tuna, the whole concept of lunch is based on tuna
  4. Cucumber, tomato and spinach, probably the most refreshing sandwich you can eat, ever
  5. Meatball sub from Subway, I think they put heroin in it because it always makes me sick, and for some reason, I always want more

Honorable mention:  Turkey, and I’m talking real turkey like left-overs from Thanksgiving turkey, and the Reuben.

Top Five Monty Python Sketches:

  1. Upperclass Twit of the Year
  2. Ron Obvious
  3. The Dead Parrot
  4. The Ministry of Silly Walks
  5. The Homicidal Barber/Lumberjack Song

Honorable mention:  The Piranha Brothers, The Bishop and Confuse-a-Cat

Top Five Ramones Songs:

  1. Blitzkrieg Bop
  2. Sheena is a Punk Rocker
  3. Judy is a Punk
  4. Teenage Lobotomy, how can you beat a line like:  “Now, I guess I’ll have to tell’em that I got no cerebellum”
  5. I Wanna be Sedated

Honorable mention:  Glad to See You Go, Rock N’ Roll High School(partially, well mostly, because of my PJ Soles obsession), Cretin Hop, Surfin’ Bird(Damn you Family Guy!), She’s the One

      My music listening goes in extreme patterns of obsession.  I’ll listen to the same records for months on end.  Right now, the two artists I am obsessing over are the two artists I’ve made Top Fives for.  The first being the Ramones and the second being…

Top Five Shania Twain Songs:

  1. Any Man of Mine
  2. From This Moment On
  3. Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, my favorite memory of this song is when I was like 10 or 11 my good buddy’s seven year old little brother loved this song so much and used to run around the house singing “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” all day
  4. Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?
  5. I’m Holding on to Love (to Save My Life)

Honorable mention:  You’re Still the One, That Don’t Impress Me Much

For the record, I am a huge Shania Twain fan.  Come on Over and The Woman in Me are just great records.  Each quite different in scope but both are chock full of wonderful country pop.  I even own, and occasionally listen to, Up!  I’m not exactly sure the reason Shania’s music is so near and dear to my heart.  It probably has a lot to do with nostalgia, as she was the biggest thing in the world when I was around 12, and she’s pretty easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean.  But it also probably has a lot to do with the fact that Come on Over and the Woman in Me are two great pop records that are fun to listen to.

Five Random television facts:

The television character I would most like to be:  Brian Hackett, Wings…
The television character that I think the most like:  Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm…
The television character I would most like to be friends with:  It’s a tie between Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock and Buddy Sorrell, The Dick van Dyke Show…
The television character I would most like to be “friends” with:  Audrey Horne, Twin Peaks…
The television character’s alter ego I wish we got to know sooner, before the television show was crappy and we didn't care anymore:  Serena, Samantha’s “evil” twin on Bewitched.  Bonus Points for being the impetus to one of the weirdest things I ever saw on TV:  Quentin Tarantino singing “I’m Gonna Blow You a Kiss in the Wind,” a song Serena sang in the episode of Bewitched when she wanted to be a Rock N’ Roll star, on SNL…

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m very bored from being trapped inside for so long without a woman's touch…

Cup of Coffee #6:


Six cups of coffee before nine o’ clock is just too much.  So, I’m going to go waste my time doing something else for a while.  I’ll probably be back sooner than later…  Goodbye for now…

Inside Llewyn Davis, Part II. This Time I've Seen It. I Swear...

Inside Llewyn Davis Part II, I’ve actually seen it this time…

            As promised, to the faithful few of you that actually take the time to read this fucking blog, I am dutifully reporting on the major motion picture “Inside Llewyn Davis,” now that I’ve actually seen the damn thing.  Now, I understand that my take on it, as a former folk singer, is highly sought after by those out there in the internet ether.  People have been clamoring for this for some time now.  I’ve had countless emails and phone calls regarding it.  Well, perhaps not.  But I do know that several of my friends have been patiently waiting for me to say something other than “I liked it,” or “it was good.”  So here goes…  Well, first let me say that I am writing to you now because, yes, I know its hard to believe but its true, I am snowed in.  Yep, in Portland, Oregon.  Snowed in.  Traffic is at a standstill outside my apartment and has been for hours.  No, its not nearly in the same ballpark as Atlanta’s recent catastrophe and failure of the state and local governments to provide any sort of assistance in maintaining adequate roadways for its tax-paying patrons in the case of an emergency and so on.  But its annoying nonetheless.  I was supposed to have band rehearsal, which of course was ruined.  So here I am typing away.  I also had the brilliant idea of going for a walk just a bit ago, which I thought would be fun, looking at the trees and streets filled with fresh snow, throw a snowball at a cop car or whatever.  It sounded like a good idea twenty minutes ago.  Nineteen minutes ago I realized that I’m an idiot.  No matter which way you walk, the snow is always blowing straight into your face and your eyes and it sucks.  It sticks to whatever facial hair you have, hopefully more of a problem for the men,  and then melts and then freezes into little clumps of ice in your beard, eyelashes, etc.  Also, since its not super cold out, the snow is very wet and sticky and I ended up with soaking wet jeans;  everyone’s favorite thing to walk around in.  It was not majestic or pretty or any of that.  It was a shit idea and now I’m cold and wet and in a foul mood.  Fuck, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, Llewyn Davis…

            Now that I’m back indoors and fixed myself a stiff drink to fight off the chill, let’s get into it.  And I mean that quite seriously.  This movie brought back a lot of shit; some good, some not so much.  There was a very large chunk of my teenage/young adult life dedicated to the cause of folk singing.  I didn’t just play sad songs on an acoustic guitar, I WAS a folk singer.  I rode buses to random cities where I knew a guy or gal who would let me sleep on a couch while I played all the open mics in town.  I took a train to New York and played Carter Family, Guthrie and Bob Dylan songs in the dining car for tips and drinks(as I was only nineteen or twenty at the time, I don’t remember which).  I played on street corners and people would invite me to their homes, give me food and drink(possibly thinking I was homeless?) and have me entertain them with songs and stories from my travels; half of which I probably made up as I went.  I’ve played all across this great country and back multiples times.  I, in a fit of “Bound for Glory” obsession, even hopped a train once.  Although that ended about as boring as it could have.  It was a grain hauling train in Wisconsin and took me from my tiny little town of Horicon to an even tinier unnamed and unincorporated town and I had to call my buddy from a pay phone to come pick me up.  But still, I did it dammit, and it was awesome.  Except for all the times when being a folk singer sucked.  All the shows played to no one except maybe the soundman, who usually left to go smoke.  The constant urge to move or go someplace new, thinking it was always so much better than wherever  I currently was.  Being depressed all the time about having missed out on the sixties folk scene.  Being bitter that no one appreciated my new song about rambling or gambling or gypsies or sailing on the sea or whateverthefuck it was.  Having what was once called the “Worst iTunes Playlist for a Party, Ever.”  Naturally, all I had on my computer was Dylan, Neil Young, every Carter Family song ever recorded, Guthrie upon Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Robert Johnson, well, you get the idea.  Folk singing wasn’t always bad but it wasn’t always great either.  And I did it for years.  I really gave it a go, really put my heart into it and never set my roots down.  The decision to stop singing folk and form a Rock N’ Roll band was very hard for me.  It wasn’t so much about changing musical styles, but about abandoning a lifestyle for me, one that I wasn’t sure I wanted to abandon yet.  But it was also very easy from the standpoint that I had begun to resent folk music for what, at the time, I perceived as a colossal wasting of my years as a young adult.  I’ve come to realize, through intense, inward self-study and self-medicated talks with myself, that my times as a folk singer, like most things, fell somewhere in the middle.  I have started, only recently, to cherish these times for the life lessons and adventures and stories which I now plunder for my newer songs.  By the age of 25, I had seen and done more than a lot of people will in a lifetime.  And some of that was things that I wish I could un-see and undo.  Things that I would never want my child, should I ever have one, to experience.  But it was all part of it, and I know now that I wouldn’t change it if I could.  Hell, at least I’ve gotten a lifetimes worth of song material out of it.  It still seems, though, as if it wasn’t all real.  Like it was part of something that I read somewhere and told, as my own, so many times that it became a real part of me.  I feel like such a different person now.  And I guess, in a way, I am.  But life is mysterious like that and so is our memory.  It’s constantly changing and repainting old scenes with new shades of the same story.  Memories are not unlike dreams that can change over time and as we invent parts and embellish others to make them more interesting to those around us, based on the company we are in.  Our own reality is only real to us and no one else.  It’s also probably one of the reasons I tend to cut ties with people, so I may freely reinterpret the past anyway that I see fit, without the burden of other people’s memories getting in the way.  Who knows...  Anyways, whew…  That was wave number one that hit me when watching this movie.  I told you it was a lot of shit…

            Wave number two was the humor of it all.  For some reason, I was overcome with the comedy of errors that is the life of a folk singer.  It was really, really funny to me.  My girlfriend was getting very irritated with me saying it was funny, but I couldn’t stop laughing at Llewyn and his misguided ways; you know, the whole funny-because-its-true thing.  One of the scenes that has really stuck with me was when Justin Timberlake and the chick(who apparently is with the guy from M*mf*rd *nd S*ns, blech…  Almost ruined the film for me.  Also, by the way, I am not sure but I think I heard his cunty voice singing one of the songs during the movie.  I like the film a lot so I don’t really want to know if it is him as surely he can’t be a part of anything good, ever) are singing their crappy excuse of a folk pop song and everyone in the audience is singing along, either because they’re idiots or because they actually like the fucking song, who knows.  But I’ve totally been there so many times, just stewing and being super pissed off and hating everyone in the room for liking that shit and then just talking through my well-crafted, heartfelt tune.  Fuck all of them.  And driving all the way to Chicago just to play a song for a guy who didn’t like it all and wanted him to join Peter, Paul and Mary.  I totally would’v e done that!  No one ever liked my music!  And when Justin Timberlake throws him a bone and has him come and record with him, Llewyn asks him “Who wrote this?”  So funny!  I loved it.  I’ve done that before!  It’s like a Curb Your Enthusiasm/Larry David awkward moment.  And, I will also admit, shamefully however, that I have yelled at/heckled a performer onstage before.  I’m not proud of it, but it also wasn’t an old lady, so it wasn’t quite as bad.  It was some douche with a newsboy hat who was way too in love with Jason Mraz.  I guess I don’t actually feel that bad, he totally deserved it.  He sucked, and clearly, someone had to tell him.  It wasn't my fault he was playing such terrible music.  In fact, I would have been doing him a disservice had I not said something.  So there, I actually feel quite good about that one. Sort of.  Maybe I am a music snob…

Anyhow, it all seemed like someone was trying to make a movie that was poking fun of everyone, myself included, who wanted to be a bona fide folk singer in the sixties.  This is the exact movie that I would make if I wanted to mock of all those people who loved folk music maybe just a little too much(me included).  The Coen Brothers clearly had a good bead on all the Dylan fanboys(again, myself included) dreaming of Greenwich Village.  Also, on a side note, when did “Dink’s Song” have a real name?  And why was that song the centerpiece of the film?  Not surprisingly, I played that song a ton back in my folk singing/open mic days but it was weird to hear it in a movie.  Speaking of weird, and completely off topic, I was watching “Rock N’ Roll High School” today and I couldn’t help but think of what a strange career PJ Soles has had.  She has been up close and personal with Joey Ramone, Bill Murray and Michael Myers(the fictional psycho serial killer, not Wayne Campbell).  That’s a lady after my own heart.  Rock N’ Roll, Comedy, Horror, she does it all…  What more could you ask for?  But back to Llewyn.  The other thing that I thought particularly funny, was his inability to use condoms properly.  I agree that its fully possible for lightning to strike and for a freak accident to occur, but multiple times?   C’mon, I don’t believe that.  He’s just being careless and lazy.  Get it together buddy, condoms are not that hard to use.  OR, just pull out and shoot it on her stomach.  OR, even better, do both.  Not getting a girl pregnant isn’t rocket science, and I’m sure it wasn’t any different back in the sixties.   I can’t even imagine how horrible it would be to have to go through an abortion, then or now.  I felt bad for the girl and she had every right to be pissed off at Llewyn for making her have to go through that.  Though I suppose that was probably meant to be more of a character flaw, mainly due to his lack of future planning and just general nonchalance toward everything; which always seemed to get in his way.  Either way, I found a lot of humor in his failures and his anger and his resentment towards others, mainly those more successful than him, throughout the film.  It’s a very common theme in the entertainment world, and I’m sure in most fields of work.  I don’t think they quite explored this enough as it has been a very large part of my life as a musician, and in talking to my musician friends, theirs too.  We musicians are a very jealous bunch and we spend quite a bit of time and energy specifically devoted to hating others.  It’s a sort of pastime amongst the brethren.  But anyways, that was wave number two, the folly of it all…


Wave number three was the one I thought might strike first and therefore was the most predictable; the overwhelming urge to move back to New York and, once again, start singing folk.  I knew this would be impossible to avoid so I was quite prepared for it.  I knew that upon seeing the film I would once again wax poetic and romanticize that former part of my life.  Even after seeing, and laughing at, how ridiculous it all was/is, there will always be a part of me that cherished that time immensely and will always want to relive it, sort of.  I know, that in my heart of hearts, I am much happier now with all that is happening in my life, both personally and musically, but it was always much more exciting and chaotic to never know what was going to happen next, to pack up and move to a new city with only a backpack full of clothes and a guitar(my cherished Martin D-15 if you were wondering) and see where life takes you next.  I was in love with the chaos as much as anything else.  It was the whole Dean vs. Sal thing and I know better now.  But even so, I can’t stop myself from daydreaming occasionally about just leaving all my shit at my apartment, except my guitar and my blue Jansport backpack(which I lost some years ago and my wonderful, amazing girlfriend replaced this past Christmas.  Thanks Love!) full of clothes, and taking a bus, or train, to Nashville or New York or Chicago or wherever and just living by the seat of my pants and…  Fuck, someone’s car alarm has been going off for the past twenty fucking minutes and its driving me fucking insane!  I can’t handle it.  They ruined my little folk music fantasy and now I’m pissed.  God, I hope it isn’t my car.  That would suck.  It’s probably not…  Shit, now I got to put on pants and go back out into that fucking snow and check.  Fuck, this sucks…  Well, I guess that’s the end of my thoughts on “Inside Llewyn Davis.”  Hopefully, it was stimulating and titillating; especially for the ladies out there.  Wink, wink…  I should probably learn to type those symbols for the “winks” because I know there’s a way, but I kind of don’t care enough and it’s a little too I’m-a-thirteen-year-old-girl-who-just-got-my-first-iphone-and-I’m-a-textaholic-lol.  So I guess maybe I shouldn’t.  Why am I still talking?  Still titillated, ladies?

New Music Sucks Part II, So Who or Whom do we Blame for all of This?

Pt. II:  The Summer of 2012...  The Horror...

Fun. is a band that was unfairly, and unavoidably, thrust upon me.  No one should ever have anything this awful thrust upon them.  They’re like the 9/11 of music, terrible and tragic, and hopefully send us into a full on war against the industry and all terrible bands everywhere.  No shitty band, or harborer of said shitty band, will be safe.  Like Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Fun.’s releasing of “Some Nights” upon the world will only lead to their eventual demise.  Alright, sorry, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but they do suck, hard.  And it is also true that no one should have bad music thrust upon them.  This is my tale regarding Theory Three(Maybe it’s not that bad, and I just need to listen to it), I’ll get to Theory Two in a bit.

I was working in retail, a shitty paint store to be exact, and in the summer of 2012 we had a certain radio station, and I won’t specify which since I am in a band and need all the radio support I can get, on all day as our “background”music; and I say “background” because you can’t tune out all the awfulness that I was forced to listen to, ten hours a day, five days a week, for an entire summer.  2012 was the summer that Fun., the Lumineers, M*mf*rd *nd S*ns, the Head and the Heart, pretty much every band I despise, were the biggest things in Music, and I hated every minute of it.  And to rub salt on the wound, with a side of swift-kick-in-the-junk, they played them OVER and OVER and OVER again.  I think I heard twelve songs, and they cherry picked the very worst ones, repeated a THOUSAND fucking times a day.  If it was an iTunes playlist it would have been called “I hate Bradley Wik and I am going to endlessly torture him with a playlist specifically tailored to his disliking and to attack his every weakness and bring him to his knees until he prays for an easier way out, like say, I don’t know, death by drowning or being dragged through the desert like Clint Eastwood in "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” It has become my life’s goal to never hear “We are Young” or “Some Nights” ever again. I would rather spend the rest of my life listening to the Soundtrack for Xanadu, then hear one of these songs again.  I have never been so dedicated, in all my life, to a cause before this.  I pray that I never hear that shitty, annoying, out of pitch(even though it sounds like Autotune is desperately trying its best but is on the verge of exploding with each terrible note) voice,  or those lyrics(which I would like to say are the worst I have ever heard, but, alas, the Head and the Heart claim the title for worst lyrics ever written.   M*mf*rd might have some worse ones, but that would require me to actually listen to a M*mf*rd song in its entirety and pay attention at least a little bit, which I am wholly unwilling to do), or any part of all those terrible sounds that they’ve put together, which they inexplicably call, since it bears no actual semblance to, music.  So far, I’ve been successful.  But the Summer of 2012 will forever be embedded in my memory, like a really bad break up I’m still not fully over, or my broken middle knuckle, which I broke in a fight when I was thirteen and has never fully healed correctly and still hurts when I lift things a certain way, which I always seem to forget and do constantly.  I could go on about Fun., and have many times, but for right now, the memory is too much to bear, so I’ll move on…

(to another topic in this discussion, I’ll probably never be able to fully move past the horrors of the Summer of 2012. Many hours of therapy have only helped me to cope with the disaster, but my life will never be the same...  So, anyways, moving on, this is my rationalization of Theory two, and I am, indeed, a bitter old man jaded by my love for classic Rock N’ Roll.)

Now, the problem with all of this, which I mentioned earlier, is that for some reason, unbeknownst and unfathomable to me, people like this music.  And as I said before, I don’t fault them for it in the sense that it is fully their right to like something shitty, and it is shitty, though they will probably tell you that since they like it, they see it as good, and that’s true, but it’s only a truth in their own little messed-up, misguided world, not the one we all have to share with these idiots.  Many times I have had the “All art is subjective, and therefore, you cannot definitively and quantifiably say something is bad, or in fleshing out that theory, good either.  It is merely art and the only true judge a person need is him or herself,” and this is all bullshit. “Some Nights” or whatever the fuck any of the M*mf*rd *nd S*ns albums are called, are in no way equal to, say, “Thriller” or “Born to Run” or “Revolver” or “Blood on the Tracks.”  Now to be fair, not many albums are.  But, using those as a point of comparison, as a jumping off point if you will, we can see that “Some Nights”and whatever the fuck any of the M*mf*rd *nd S*ns albums are called, are so far away from anything resembling what we might call “Good Music” that they might as well be polar opposites, and could very well be used to represent the other extreme of our musical litmus test; “Born to Run” or “Blood on the Tracks” turn the paper blue and signal sitting on the throne of greatness,  while“Some Nights” or whatever the fuck any of the M*mf*rd *nd S*ns albums are called turn the paper red and signify sitting on a porta-john, with syphilis on the seat.

I’ve also heard the argument that people like the aforementioned bands because they might be the best option available.  That yeah, they aren’t great but they are much better than all the stuff on top-40 radio, which I can’t even begin to name since I am so far removed from that world, but I do know there is lots of Autotune and is supposed to make people dance but should make people Van Gogh their fucking ears off; and people need to listen to something.  This, again, is a bullshit answer.  Music is art, and therefore fluid and alive and it can never die once it is released to the world, it is timeless.  Given this,  there is no grading on a curve for new music.  Like in Baseball, you are constantly judged by all those who came before you, and always will be.  No one forces people to listen to music from only their generation; if they are too lazy or don’t care enough to go out to a record store and find something better, it is their own damn fault and no one elses.  And, therefore,  I have no pity for them, and I can make fun of and mock them all I damn please without even a twinge of that Catholic Guilt rising back up, like an Easter Jesus, trying to make me feel like shit about everything that I do.  And it most certainly does not mean that their music is any better just because they didn’t take the time to fully appreciate anything else.  Ignorance doesn’t make new music better, it only reinforces and displays their own ignorance for all to see.  But because of all these people listening to and buying the records and going to the shows of these terrible artists, the people deciding the future of music are making money off of those same terrible artists.  And since people who have money generally like to have more money, they are constantly trying to find whatever new band fits this current fad, and follow the same old business model which just made them money, in order to make the always lucrative “more money.”  And this is the issue I take with these people who like these terrible bands:  it inflicts more terrible bands, ones who are trying to copy the already shitty ones and failing, therefore systematically spiraling downward, dumbing itself down with each copy of a copy.  For instance, the Lumineers and the Head and the Heart are just crappier versions of M*mf*rd *nd S*ns(if that’s even possible), and I know there are countless bands “influenced” by the Lumineers and the Head and the Heart, but inexplicably worse(I’ve played shows with many, trust me), which I won’t glorify and name.  And so it goes, on and on downwards into oblivion…


But all of this is not meant to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the consumers, as much of the blame, well, most of the blame, should still still be hurled towards those with the money and the power:  the music industry.  A decade or so ago, maybe even before that, but that was the first I heard of this happening, music labels starting handing over power from “music” people to “business” people.  These men and women could care less about the “art” of it all and started chasing money, as there was loads and loads of it kicking around back then and they were bound and determined to get the biggest chunk they could, cash out and live the life of Riley, not at all worried about the wake of destruction(shitty music) they have left behind for all of us.  The problem that they, for some reason, couldn’t see, is that this would create a lack in the talent gathering and developing department.  Simply put, the best bands don’t always make the most money, at least not initially.  It takes time to cull a great catalogue of music and it didn’t always mesh perfectly with the new, internet-crazed, ADHD-diagnosed, using prescription pills for getting up and prescription pills for getting back down again society which needed its next “fix” as quickly as it will eventually discard it.  So, instead of packing up and preparing for the long haul, these “music execs” decided it was easier to cash in on fads and keep their jobs another week than to invest in real musicians in it for the long haul.  And thusly, and not surprisingly, it all fell apart, as do most get-it-while-its-hot business strategies(see:  housing market crash).  The dumbest part of all of this is that they are not only forcing us to miss out on tons and tons of great music, but they are also missing out on their cash cows of the future.  Nobody makes more money to this day than Bruce Springsteen or the Rolling Stones or U2 or Madonna or Bon Jovi, but almost none of those artists would have been allowed the time to become the mammoths they are in these modern, terrible times; Madonna excepted as she was just as brilliant at marketing herself as her music was, and, like the great chameleon, molding and shaping the way she was/is perceived by others, would’ve figured out something.  Which I suppose they all were great at marketing themselves to a degree, but not quite in the same way.  The other guys mainly did it the old fashioned way of making great Albums, not just a few singles and filler(with a few exceptions, of course, no one is perfect), and working hard on the road and building a very supportive, and lifelong fan base.  But there are currently no more bands to fill that void.  I remember watching the Hurricane Sandy benefit show and thinking that all of those bands and artists have been around forever and soon they will be gone, both figuratively and literally, and there will be no one left for the next star-studded event or benefit for whatever might come up(the world is a crazy place and getting crazier all the time, so I can only imagine, or rather, try not to imagine).  I could feel us slowly moving towards the edge and once we turn the corner we’ll all be staring at each other wondering where all the guardians went.  The Kings and Queens of Rock N’ Roll will soon be gone, no more Boss or U2 or Billy Joel or Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan or Neil Young, with no one to pass the baton to.  Which I suppose is exactly what this new generation of hipsters wants, no greatness, just mediocrity.  But I strongly feel, and always will, that we need our heroes.  We need someone to take us out of our own lives.  We need those giants to look up to and aspire to be like.  Anyone can make mediocre music, and that’s what makes the hipsters feel good about themselves, that they can do it too; and they do, in droves.  There’s thousands upon thousands of mediocre-to-shitty bands all over the place, and that’s fine, as long they have fun and, more importantly, we don’t glorify them.  They don’t deserve it and shouldn’t receive it.  The Rock N’ Roll Gods will punish us for bestowing it upon them.  Well, I guess from the looks of it, they already have…

New Music Sucks, Part I. Mumford & Sons Ruined My Will to Live. Well, Almost...

New Music Sucks, Part I:  Fuck Mumford & Sons...


            Sitting here, enjoying a fine glass of Scotch(Glenmorangie, if you’re wondering, even though you probably weren’t.  It’s the nectar of the gods, brought down to earth for our sipping pleasure and is surely the finest beverage available to a mere mortal) and ruminating on why I hate new music so much, I have come to a few different conclusions:  One, music today IS actually much more terrible than it used to be(my most likely candidate, but all in due time, my dear, all in due time).  Two,  is what I call the “Bitter Old Man Syndrome.” In this scenario I have been completely jaded by my Classic Rock upbringing(Thanks Mom! Seriously though, that is not meant to be sarcastic.  I actually am thankful I had her Vinyl to flip through instead of obsessing over Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” which I did do in equal measure to be honest.  And, man, nothing gets a party going like “No Diggity” and “California Love.”  I am all-encompassingly a child of the Nineties).  And Three,  maybe, just maybe, it’s actually pretty good and I would like it if I gave it half a chance, which to be honest, maybe I haven’t…  Well, maybe I have,  fuck, I don’t know.  I totally fell for the Arcade Fire’s first album “Funeral” as a savior of modern Rock N’ Roll(as proclaimed by Pitchforkmusic.com, now just pitchfork.com, which has gone the way of Popular Music and sucks my hairy, sweaty nutsack, but more on that later, if I still have the strength, which I probably won’t), the heir apparent to Bruce and all the Holiness that He stood for, the record that I, as a Rock N’ Roll purist, have been waiting for, for many years.  I used to walk around Madison, Wisconsin with my Walkman/Discman, extra CD’s in the pouch of my Green Bay Packers hoodie, listening to “Funeral” over and over again as I walked through James Madison Park(or Tenney Park since it had footbridges which seemed very poetic and beautiful to me at the time, though, Tenney Park was usually my Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft” walking route).  Full disclosure, the other CD’s in my aforementioned Packers hoodie pouch were the Stars “Set Yourself on Fire” which I loved for the romance and nostalgia it brought to High School and teenage relationships(being eighteen at the time,  they were of the utmost importance to me as that was all I had in regards to women) and Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism” which had the song “We Looked Like Giants” which was was sort of an anthem at the time seeing as back in the tiny shit town I grew up in, the only places to make-out proper with a girl were parks and scarcely driven country roads, so, we spent a lot of time in the back of whatever shitty car we could buy with five hundred bucks, trying desperately for a lay, though in my case, mostly settling for some good tongue and a tit grab, such is life… 

            So, anyway, let’s start with Theory One:  Music today IS actually much more terrible than it used to be.  To forewarn you, this is not going to be a rant about Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, we’ll save that for another day as there have always been crappy pop artists being exploited(and having their lives thusly destroyed), though handsomely rewarded as well, by music industry types for third quarter returns and bottom lines etc. etc. and on and on.  This is going to focus a bit more on the bands that are supposed to be “Good,” the new generation’s “Dylan’s” or whatever the fuck and so on and so forth…

Up until about 2007-2008 I really believed in the new generation of bands, they brought such hope and beautiful music to my little lonely world, which was now based out of a tiny, dirty 400-500 sq. ft. one bedroom apartment which I shared with my girlfriend at the time and a good friend of mine, who unbeknownst to me, was a bit of a Hippie(read:  didn’t use deodorant, didn’t clean a whole lot, liked to cook couscous at two in the morning, pass out drunk and leave the rest under his bed til the flies got so extreme in the apartment we left the windows open in the wintertime so they would leave of their own volition because you couldn’t possibly kill them all, you’d die trying, which I almost did on several occasions) which I wasn’t a huge fan of to say the least, in New York City.  My favorite bands at the time, not counting what I call the “Givens”like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles,  etc., were the Hold Steady(about whom I nearly creamed myself every time I got to see them play live in the City or in Brooklyn), Iron & Wine(who also introduced me to Band of Horses when I saw them open for Iron & Wine at the House of Blues Chicago.  I promptly fell in love with Band of Horses first record “Everything All the Time,” only to fall back out of love by the second.  Oh, all those crazy, drunken one-record-stands, I loved you all) and Bonnie “Prince” Billy/Palace/Palace Brothers/Will Oldham.  A little side note here, I listen to music in a bit of an OCD type way:  when I hear a band I love, I immediately go out, buy all their records(I remember hounding the guys at B-Side records, the best record store in Madison, WI, for “Days in the Wake”for weeks and weeks until they finally got me a copy, probably just to shut me up) and listen to them non-stop for months and months on end until I know every lyric, every riff; or until I find another album to carry my fancy for the time being.  I’m also terribly easy to distract.  I moved around a lot back then, so I could only manage to carry with me, in my fourth-grade, personalized gym bag, with “Brad Wik”sewn on the side next to “Horicon Marshmen,” our team mascot(which is not nearly as cool as it might sound, or could be.  One might imagine some awe-inspiring mutant created from the swamp, I mean marsh, that would rip your spine out Mortal Kombat II style just for kicks on a Friday Night.  A being so wretched that  all those who might dare cross it would be filled with and learn the meaning of true terror...  But its really just a man standing next to some cattails),  a select few CD’s.  There must have been a two year span where all I listened to was:

1.              “Boys and Girls in America” – the Hold Steady, I couldn’t get enough of this.  Thin Lizzy type heavy riffs, a guy from the Midwest, stories of being bored and doing drugs, it sounded a lot like my childhood.  I loved it…
2.              “O” – Damien Rice, a beautiful record.  My favorite memory of Damien Rice is when he finally came to the States to tour.  I remember watching the opening band and me and my buddy were so enamored with this girl just sitting on a wooden chair on the side of the stage.  We made countless lewd comments, as boys are meant to do, about her throughout the Frames’(opening band) set wondering why she was sitting on the stage and not our cocks, etc., etc.  Then when Damien came out we realized it was Lisa Hannigan, which we knew from the liner notes and photos in the CD jacket; and also because she was singing with Damien Rice.  Lisa became the pinnacle of womanly beauty for me and my buddy for years after that.  Not because of her beautiful, sensual voice, it was mainly for her looks…
3.              “The Creek Drank the Cradle” and “Our Endless Numbered Days” – Iron & Wine, my obsession with Iron & Wine was not unlike a steamy romance:  there were years of unbridled love and passion, then I suddenly realized it had become everything I hated.  “Kiss Each Other Clean”is complete shit and I wish I could have my twelve dollars back and wipe that record from my conscience.  I’ll never forget what we had when it was beautiful, but I will never forget the damage that was done in the later years either…
4.              “Grace” – Jeff Buckley, I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this record is or how much it means to me.  In my more drug-addled days, the bad ones, not the good ones, I kept hoping “Hallelujah” could save me.  And, in a way I suppose, it did…
5.              “The Low End Theory” – A Tribe Called Quest, I was late to the party with this one, but could not get enough when I finally made it there…
6.              “Set Yourself on Fire” – Stars, which was my main “depressed” listen throughout the 00’s.
7.              “Y’s” -  Joanna Newsom, I am still not sure why I became immensely obsessed with this record but I did and I love it to this day.  I’ve even pilfered some lyrics from this for my own music…
8.              “The College Dropout” – Kanye West, maybe it was because he was from the Midwest too, or maybe just because the songs are fucking awesome.  I’ve loved this record since the day I heard “Through the Wire.”  I particularly love the memory of going to LA with my other buddy from Wisconsin(the other member of the “Lisa Hannigan is the best thing that ever happened to Women, and therefore all Men who are lucky enough to have seen her” fan club) and just blaring this album, and reciting lyrics and just generally being obnoxious to the point that our LA friend’s shitty, coked-out, ridiculously good looking neighbors(he lived in West Hollywood) hated us…

So, you see, I owned and loved, many records from this Millennium and was all about the future of Music.  Seeing as I myself was a musician, this was also very self-serving, but nonetheless, I fully believed that music was “Getting better all the time.”  And though there was still the terrible Good Charlotte, Shitty Older, political Green Day, Puddle of Mudd, Nickleback, Creed(fuck, there was a lot of shit back then) of the early to mid 2000’s, the new millennium had brought us the height of Radiohead and Bjork and Wilco, dominating the radio and print.  Rolling Stone was actually reporting on good music for once, not just giving the new Britney Spears record three and a half stars.  These were exciting times.  I actually enjoyed life for a few years, instead of being a bitter, old twat and only speaking of things that I hate(like now, if you haven’t noticed).  Then, it happened…  In 2009, my world was turned upside down, I couldn’t even figure out what had happened at the outset, but I knew it wasn’t good.  The terrible thing which could never be undone, and which ruined everything for me(until it was ruined even further a few years later…More on that to come) happened… I am talking, of course, of the first time I heard Mumford and Sons…  For the record, I am not sure I have ever heard an entire Mumford song start to finish, but that certainly doesn’t negate it’s inherent shittiness; I have never watched an entire game of soccer but I am 100% sure that its terrible, and is poisoning our youth with lies of mediocrity, kicking a ball hither and yon for 90 minutes with NOTHING INTERESTING EVER happening, but, alas, we’ll probably get around to soccer another day, we’re not quite there yet.

To put it simply, and relatively mildly, in my opinion at least, I FUCKING HATE MUMFORD AND SONS.  But seeing as I rarely put anything simply, or mildly, let’s go into it further.  First off, I would like to clarify that listening to, and liking, Mumford and Sons does not make you a bad person.  After extensive soul searching, and in a great effort to better myself and generally become less angry and cynical, I have forced myself to finally ascribe to this realization.  I used to spend hours and hours hating people who liked shitty music/movies/books/art etc. and it was a grand waste of my very limited amount of time, emotion and energy on Earth.  Plus, it generally just made me a douche.  So, there you go, I have accomplished at least something with my life, however small and meaningless, seeing as it was something I never should have done to begin with, but there it is.  I DO, however, believe that the act of liking something as shitty as Mumford and Sons is ruining music today, at least what little is left of music, with the record companies killing most of the industry already.  But more on that in a bit, first, let’s focus on Mumford.  I have an all-encompassing, indescribable(even to myself) emotional repulsion to this band(I’m sick of even just typing their name, so I’m going to stop).  They have somehow come to villainize everything that makes me sick, everything I hate about new music and just everything in general that displeases me about the world in relation to music and hipsters and the whole lot of it.  Now, there is no way to accurately quantify an emotion, which is the main reason why the whole thing remains shrouded in mystery even to myself.  But I knew, from the first note of whatever terrible excuse for a song it was that I first heard, that I could not stand this band, that they shouldn’t exist in this world and do so only to torment me with all their terrible music and faces and banjos.  I suppose, that if I really wanted to, I could choose to live in an alternate reality(as we all do in our own way anyhow) in which, since I almost never read music news or pay attention to pretty much anything happening in the world around me anymore, Sports excepted, M*mf*rd *nd S*ns doesn’t exist.  I rarely, if ever, go to bars that might play one of their wretched songs, associate with no one, since everyone I know has undoubtably heard me rant and rave of my hatred towards them,  who would dare mention them(fearing I would launch into it once again) and could generally live a very M*mf*rd *nd S*ns -free life.  But I don’t.  I instead, and probably unwisely, force myself to deal with it, and by deal with it, I mean just be angry about it all the time. 

           One of the things that has always interested me is our ability, as humans, to immediately identify things that we dislike.  It happens all the time, and on a wide variety of topics.  We meet people, whom we’ve never seen before, and immediately don’t like them, based on nothing real, at least not yet.  We see food that instantly turns our stomach.  We identify books and movies we won’t like without ingesting any of the content.  But how?  And why?  It seems the consensus of people much, much smarter than I, not that that is a terribly difficult accomplishment, but nonetheless, is that our brains are far more capable than we give them credit for and are able to instantly process thousands of bits of data, weigh them within the context of our past experiences and likes/dislikes etc., and come up with an answer before we have even begun to actively “think” about whatever it might be we are forming an opinion of.  It’s happened to me many times, and I’m sure its happened to you as well.  You meet someone, instantly disliked or even hated them, only to find out that…  You were right.  They are indeed a terrible person, who is abusive, a drunk, a cheater, a liar or even just generally a douche, like me.  It happens when you try new foods, like oysters, which I knew I would hate, until I tried them, and then I really fucking despised oysters.  Now, some people like to think that I am predisposing myself to react unfavorably, but I know in my heart of hearts, that I am being true to myself and that, yes, oysters are just terribly disgusting.  This is all somehow trying to explain what has happened in regards to that band which I have learned to loathe.  Maybe, it was because I immediately heard the strum of a banjo, which drives me absolutely fucking insane(banjos are not inherently evil, they can be used for good.  Go see a good bluegrass band or Steve Martin or Steve Martin playing bluegrass, which is actually quite good.  But if you’re just too lazy to learn how to properly play the banjo then FUCK YOU, don’t play it).  Maybe it was the whiny, terrible, trying to be affected and therefore sound sadder than it really is, bullshit voice which sang whatever crappy song I first heard.  Maybe it was the poorly written, lazy, awful lyrics that I was hearing.  Maybe it was the dumbass stomping I was hearing.  Chances are it was all of it.  And I knew, even before I knew that I knew, that M*mf*rd *nd S*ns was the worst thing to happen to music…  And that we could never, as a society, both musically and socially, sink lower than this…  That is until I heard… Fun….  (To note, the first period is from their stupid fucking name, the other three being an ellipsis, and seeing as I didn’t go to school for writing I am not completely sure if I am supposed to factor their period in and just add the proper punctuation at the end or count it as part of the ellipsis, but either way, fuck them for their ridiculous fucking name.)


          Part II to follow soon...